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Three estate planning tips for step families

Finding love a second time around can be exciting. However, those who have children from previous relationships may need to tread more carefully. In these situations it is often wise to take steps to help ensure that your children are financially protected.

The following tips can be useful to ensure that everyone you love is protected:

  • What's yours is your spouse's. When married, many of our assets become marital property. There are some ways around this, but unless steps are taken to separate assets they often become the property of the married couple.
  • Words don't always have weight. Unfortunately, a promise or voicing an intention of how you wish your assets to be split may not be enough. When a parent remarries the law generally views the new spouse as the heir. Children from previous relationships could be left out unless legal tools are used to preserve their inheritance.
  • Outlining limitations. Steps can also be taken to help ensure that those you do not want to receive distributions are removed as heirs. This could include an ex-spouse. Although many state laws automatically remove an ex from certain distributions, other steps may be needed. This includes a review of beneficiary designations on policies like life insurance or retirement policies. In some cases, these designations may need to be updated.

These are just three considerations to take into account when looking to protect the financial future of your loved ones. It is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that all potential issues are discussed and accounted for.

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