When thinking about the end of your life, what do you want to leave behind? Who do you want to leave it to? A will can help you achieve these things and more after your passing.
With a blended family, it’s important that you have documentation if you want to include your non-blood related family. In Florida, your estate planning needs must be adjusted when it comes to blended families. A marriage doesn’t automatically adjust your will for the stepchildren and spouse involved. To include your stepchildren, you must include them in your will.
Passing without a will
If you pass away without a will, the state will be in charge of your estate. They typically split the estate between your biological and legally adopted children and your spouse. If you don’t have a living spouse or biological or adopted children, the estate will then go to the next of kin. Your stepchildren will be bypassed in the process.
The only way for your stepchildren to receive anything from your estate is if you name them in your will. This is because they are not legally related to you and, therefore, are not entitled to your estate.
Including your stepchildren
If you choose to include your stepchildren in your will, make sure to be specific. You must put their first and last name in the will. If you use words like “children” or “heirs” they will not be included.
You can leave your stepchildren anything that you can leave your biological children. In your will, you can leave them a percentage of your estate that must be split between everyone else named, specific gifts or certain assets.
Excluding your stepchildren
Typically, it’s easier to exclude your stepchildren from your will. They usually receive nothing unless they are named. However, if you die before your spouse, you can either have your spouse decide what to give your stepchildren or ensure that they receive nothing even after your death.
If you want your spouse to decide, you can leave your entire estate to them. If you would rather your stepchildren not receive anything, a marital bypass trust may be your best option. A marital bypass trust allows your spouse to have the estate until their passing then prevents the surviving children from getting anything from the estate.
When you have a blended family, you have to plan ahead. Do your research and figure out what you want. It will make things much easier for those surviving after your passing.