Divorce is not an uncommon scenario for many Maryland couples. Following a divorce, many people choose to remarry. If each spouse in the second marriage has children from a previous marriage, the newly blended family may make for a happier, albeit more complicated, home life. However, there are estate planning issues that should be addressed when it comes to blended families.
First of all, it is important for each spouse, along with any adult children, to sit down together and talk finances. This includes not just one's current finances, but also how they would like their property to be divided after their death, along with any other future financial goals. This way, everyone is on the same page with regards to one's finances.
In addition, one should take a look at any retirement accounts or insurance policies that name someone as a beneficiary. It is important to review such documents after a divorce, to ensure one's ex-spouse is not still listed as a beneficiary. That being said, it is important not to name someone under the age of 18 as a beneficiary. That person will not be able to lawfully handle those assets, which would be controlled by a court-appointed guardian until the beneficiary is 18-years-old.
Furthermore, when it comes to a second marriage, it is not uncommon for one or both spouses to already have a substantial amount of property and assets. In these situations, it may be a good idea, before getting married, to create a separate property trust. This can ensure that one's property goes to their preferred beneficiaries, such as their new spouse or their children from their first marriage.
Finally, it is important to review who one has designated as one's financial power of attorney along with who is listed as an agent on any health care directives, and to change this person to either one's new spouse or another trusted person. This can ensure that these major end-of-life decisions are not still in the hands of one's ex-spouse.
When two families become one, complications can arise. Nonetheless, at least with estate planning, with a little work and communication, spouses can work together to ensure that their financial needs, along with the needs of their children, are met.