Naples Blended Family Estate Planning Lawyer
A blended family is the popular term for marriages where one or both spouses have a child or children from a previous marriage. By some estimates, blended families make up 40% of marriages in the U.S., as well as 60% of divorces. Blended families can be hard work but also extremely rewarding. In the busy lives of parents working hard to make their marriage a success, some important aspects of their lives that should not be overlooked are the unique needs and issues of Estate Planning in a blended family. As a Florida Board-Certified Specialist in Wills, Trusts and Estates with over 25 years of experience in the practice of law, Naples lawyer James R. Nici is the perfect resource to help you through the complicated facets of Estate Planning in a blended family. Call Nici Law Firm, P.L., at 239-449-6150 or contact us online for advice and assistance with your Blended Family Estate Planning needs.
How do you address the special needs of a blended family in Estate Planning?
Every family is different and has its own unique set of needs, including blended families. Some may have businesses and complicated assets that need protection, some may have children with special needs who must be considered and accounted for, and others may be more interested in planning to avoid estate and gift taxation. While each Estate Plan should address specific needs and goals, Estate Planning among blended families typically benefits from having certain documents in place. These documents may include the following:
Pre-marital agreements – Also known as prenuptial agreements, a pre-marital agreement is a contract entered into by two people who are contemplating marriage. The agreement becomes effective upon marriage and acts as a binding and enforceable contract between the spouses, assuming it was drafted correctly. Although pre-marital agreements are commonly thought of as a way to deal with issues of property and alimony in the event of a divorce, pre-marital agreements have an important role to play in Estate Planning, especially in the case of a blended family.
A marriage endows a spouse with certain inheritance rights. A pre-marital agreement can secure the rights of children from a previous marriage to inherit even after that second marriage to a new spouse. The pre-marital agreement can also require a spouse to maintain or purchase a life insurance policy, dictating who will be named as beneficiaries of the policy. The pre-marital agreement can also require the creation of or amendment to a Will or Trust, such as a Trust guaranteeing life income to the second spouse while preserving Trust property for children from the earlier marriage. Although actions such as these can be taken anytime, writing them into a prenuptial agreement establishes guarantees for both spouses as they enter the marriage, knowing they will be protected and have their needs met for the future.
Post-marital agreements – A post-marital agreement functions the same way as a pre-marital agreement; the difference is that the post-marital or postnuptial agreement is created after the spouses are already married. Any number of reasons may keep the parties from proposing or entering into a pre-marital agreement, but important issues can be addressed at any time during the marriage in a post-marital agreement, guaranteeing safety and security in the event of divorce or death. In some cases, a pre-marital agreement was not initially deemed necessary, but the need for protection arises later in the marriage when a spouse creates a booming business or inherits property, for instance.
Shared property agreements
Divorce rates are high all around, but the divorce rate in blended families is about double the rate for other couples. For this reason and others, many parents in blended families choose to cohabitate rather than enter a legal marriage. In fact, about one in four blended families involve a cohabitation arrangement rather than a formal marriage. Even without formalizing their relationship through marriage, couples can still create agreements that define each other’s separate property to be kept separate and establish what rights each person may have to property jointly purchased while the couple are living together. Many common features of marital agreements can be incorporated into shared property agreements to protect assets, avoiding the need to fight over these issues in court at some future date.
Call the Nici Law Firm for Help with Blended Estate Planning in Naples
For help with blended family Estate Planning in Naples, call Nici Law Firm, P.L. at 239-449-6150 or contact us online for a complimentary consultation to share your concerns with a Florida Board-Certified Specialist in Wills, Trusts and Estates. We offer knowledgeable insight and expert assistance to meet the distinct needs of your unique family.