Tampa Blended Estate Planning Attorney
These days, half of all marriages end in divorce. People are divorcing earlier and more often than ever before, and they are also remarrying at a far greater rate. Often, these remarriages will include a child or children from the previous marriage of one or both spouses. Unfortunately, second and third marriages end in divorce at even higher rates than first-time marriages. While we wish everyone the best, effective estate planning includes making sure you and your loved ones are protected regardless of whatever changes and events life brings. At Strategic Counsel Law Group, our dedicated and compassionate Tampa blended estate planning attorneys help blended families create, revise or update their estate plans to ensure current spouses, as well as children from previous marriages, are appropriately considered when it comes to wills, trusts, life insurance and other vital matters.
In blended families, inheritance and related issues must be spelled out clearly in legal documents when it comes to distributing property among a spouse and children of a prior marriage. Without any legal instruments in place, Florida law will take over and dictate the result, which might not be what the individual or family members had in mind. Here are just some of the ways we can help blended families address these difficult legal issues. As always, our team takes a hands-on, personal approach and custom-tailors an estate plan to the unique needs of each family.
Premarital, Marital and Postmarital Agreements
According to Florida law, a premarital agreement (also known as a prenuptial or antenuptial agreement) is “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.” Premarital agreements are often thought of as ways to protect parties to a marriage when the spouses come into the marriage with vastly different amounts of wealth, but premarital agreements are also an essential tool when it comes to the tricky situation that blended families can present. In either case, a premarital agreement helps parties enter a marriage with security and peace of mind.
A premarital agreement at the outset establishes the rights and obligations of each spouse regarding marital and separate property, and it can be used to establish, modify, waive or eliminate spousal support (alimony) in the event of divorce. A premarital agreement in Florida can also deal with the right to inherit, including requiring the making of a will, trust or life insurance policy and dictating its terms. In this way, a premarital agreement can ensure that both spouses will be adequately protected in case of divorce, but that their children, whether shared or from a previous marriage, will be taken care of as well.
To be valid in the state of Florida, a premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. It must be entered voluntarily without the presence of fraud, duress, coercion or overreaching. It must also not be “unconscionable” at the time the agreement is made, and it must be based on knowledge or disclosure of each party’s property and financial obligations. Our Tampa blended family estate planning lawyers will work with you to help ensure your agreement is valid and enforceable and addresses blended family issues in accordance with your wishes.
Florida law also allows for similar agreements to be entered into during marriage; these are known as marital or post-marital agreements. Sometimes couples don’t find the time before marriage to create a premarital agreement. They don’t make it a priority or they don’t understand the need for such a document, or they don’t want to spoil the romance by creating a legal document that could be used in a divorce. When we engage in estate planning with blended families who don’t have a marital agreement in place, we take the time to speak frankly and sensitively about the ramifications of estate planning in a blended family and make sure the documents we create reflect our clients’ needs and concerns.
Shared Property Agreements
Perhaps because of the high rate of divorce among second and third-marriages, one-quarter of blended families choose to live together without getting married. These couples might think they are protecting their assets and rights by avoiding a marriage (and possible divorce), but that is not necessarily so. Couples who live together likely commingle at least some of their separate finances and buy property together. The death of one of the partners can create thorny legal issues regarding the distribution of property. With a shared property agreement, blended families who choose not to marry can still put in writing what separate property should be kept separate and how joint property should be dealt with regarding blended family members.
Get the Answers That Are Right for You and Your Family
Blended families present unique issues when it comes to estate planning. The Tampa estate planning attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group approach every situation thoughtfully and strategically. We take the time to understand your needs and develop a plan to help you achieve your goals. Call our office in Tampa at 813-286-1700 to discuss estate planning protections for your beloved blended family.