Last column I explained how a son’s drug addiction was a serious threat to his mother’s estate plan. Even though he had no desire or intention to interfere with his mother’s wishes, his choices required that she take extra precautions to ensure any inheritance helped – rather than harmed – her son. A trust allowed her to accomplish this even after she passed away.
Even though this son’s flawed choices created the hurdle his mother had to overcome, there are other complications of life in which no one is at fault. These circumstances should also be addressed. Perhaps the most common example is the blended family.
How can a blended family be a risk to your estate? Consider the following example. You pass away before your spouse and children. Like most people, you want what you left behind to be available for your spouse, and then ultimately for your children.
But what happens if your spouse remarries? Will your estate be used for your spouse’s benefit or for the benefit of the new spouse? Under Idaho’s community property laws, you have the right to decide how your portion of that community estate will be used, and your spouse has the right to decide for his or her portion. But if your spouse and her new partner start spending “generously,” whose money are they using? For recently widowed seniors, might this new spouse even be a predator willing to marry to be taken care of and have access to the (even relatively small) estate you left behind?
Even if this is not a concern, what happens to your money if your spouse passes away before her new spouse? Does your money go to your children, or does it go to the new spouse or his/her children?
That could never happen to your spouse, mother or father you say? You may be right. But what if that loved one begins to experience some of the frailties of age? Could he or she be susceptible to clouded judgment from loneliness, a decline in health and/or potential pressure from a suitor whose motives may not be entirely sincere? Proper planning can help you or your family be prepared.
© 2015 Steven J Wright
Tags: Blended family