If you’ve remarried at some point in your life, then your family dynamics might be more complicated than you think especially if you look at them from an estate planning perspective. This is because you may have developed family-like relationships with individuals who have no biological relation to you, which can have an impact on how successfully your assets will pass down if you don’t have an estate plan.
Dying in Arizona without an estate plan
Passing away without an estate plan in place is risky. This is because your assets will then be passed down in accordance with state law rather than the terms that you dictate. This means that if you have a spouse and children from that spouse, then your spouse will automatically inherit everything. In a blended family, though, your subsequent spouse will inherit one-half of your separate property, but none of your half of the community property. Your biological children from your previous marriage will then inherit your half of the community property and the other half of your separate property.
Considerations when in a blended family
So what does this mean for you? It means that you need to know how you want your assets distributed upon your death and dictate that in an estate plan if it doesn’t lineup with Arizona’s intestate succession laws. For example, if you don’t want your step-children to inherit anything, then you might want to put whatever assets you’re leaving to your spouse in a trust that leaves the remainder of the trust to your biological children upon your spouse’s passing. Or, on the other hand, if you want your step-children to inherit directly from you, then you should specify as much in your estate plan. Otherwise they may not receive much, if anything.
Receive the customized estate planning that you need
A lot of people think that estate planning is reserved for the wealthy. This isn’t true. Anyone can benefit form estate planning. So, if you care about your loved ones and want to take a proactive approach to how your assets are distributed, which is the only way to retain control over your estate for years to come, then you may want to sit down and discuss your vision of the future with a competent estate planning attorney.