There can be a lot to deal with when two California families combine into one. This is often seen in the context of blended families when one individual with children marries another individual who is not the children's parent. In some instances, each spouse has children from another relationship.
The blending of these families can lead to significance readjustments in day-to-day living, and it can also have significant ramifications for estate planning.
Those who are part of a blended family need to carefully consider certain legal aspects of estate planning to ensure that their estate is distributed upon their death in accord with their wishes. The traditional route of basic estate planning doesn't always work for those in a blended family. For example, a will that leaves all assets to a spouse can be risky because that spouse can then turn around and essentially disinherit the deceased individual's children from his or her prior relationship.
So what can an individual do to ensure that his or her children are adequately provided for in an estate plan? One option is to utilize a trust that leaves assets to one's surviving spouse with a provision that dictates that those assets are to be passed down to the testator's children upon the second spouse's death. Another option is to leave assets directly to one's children. Of course, if those children are minors, then their other parent or even the deceased individual's spouse may control those assets until the child turns the age of majority.
A blended family can certainly complicate an estate plan. This is why those who are concerned about how their assets will be distributed should consider sitting down with an experienced legal professional who can help walk them through the process. This way, an individual can rest assured that his or her assets are in good hands for the future.