Estate Planning for Blended Families
Today, blended families are a reality for many, which can raise additional complexity for estate planning, largely due to differences in family dynamics and objectives. It can become especially tricky when trying to establish a level of balance to ensure all family members are treated equitably, while at the same time aiming to avoid potential discord or feuds in the future.
Among the concerns to address is what occurs upon the death of a parent in a blended family. When we met the Jensen family, they wondered what would happen if their father passed away and how things would be handled in such a crisis. They were particularly worried because they didn’t have any legal documents in place.
The family felt stuck not knowing where to start. A key to successful estate planning and wealth transfer is open communication. However, they were unsure how to begin the conversation with one another or what direction to give a lawyer – they had no plan whatsoever. As financial planners, our role is to identify potential issues so that our clients can decide what’s most important. That way, they can be prepared for any of life’s challenges. It’s essential to have tough conversations with our clients and confront any obvious issues that may otherwise go unacknowledged.
Our process helps clients move forward, beginning with a conversation in a safe environment, where they won’t be rushed into making any long-term decisions. Over several meetings, we structure a clear estate plan so that they can determine what they want in the future and how their estate will be managed. We arrange for a lawyer to meet with our clients, where they’ll provide the client with a calculation of how their business and personal assets will be distributed at the estate time, as well as a clear picture of the current assets.
After the wills and Power of Attorney documents were completed, the Jensens felt relieved. Their father’s final wishes were documented, sufficient funds were allocated for taxes and final expenses, and the executors accepted the legal obligations to the estate. The Jensens were able to move forward happily and discuss their future together as a family.
Estate planning for blended families should involve professional guidance and advice. By appointing a financial planner, the process can be successful with an approach that prioritizes proactive communication and employs strategies that include each family member. Take the necessary steps today to help protect your family from the burden of making difficult decisions in the time of crisis and grief.
To learn more about estate planning for blended families or to book an appointment for any of your family wealth management needs, please contact us or call 604.678.3003; our Legacy Family Office team is happy to answer your questions.