Blended Families

Muhammad Ali, whose given name was Cassius Clay, was born and raised in Louisville, KY. At the age of 12, Ali took up boxing and by the age of 18 he was an Olympic champion, winning a gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics. By the end of his storied career, Ali was hailed as the greatest boxer of all time, becoming the heavyweight champion of the world not once, but twice. He was an incredible ambassador for the USA as he travelled the world championing causes that were near and dear to his heart. On June 2, 2016, Ali passed away leaving an indelible legacy behind.

Privately, Ali was a family man. During the course of his boxing career as well as in the years that followed, Ali married four times, and had nine children as a result of those marriages. Ali’s family was very much what you would call a blended family, a family that is composed of spouses and children from previous relationships. Blended families present unique challenges when it comes to estate planning, but these challenges are not insurmountable with proper planning. Now, here are three keys to establishing an estate plan when blended families are involved.

First, communication is critical. Discuss with your current spouse what your financial situation is and how you would like your assets distributed upon your passing. Also, talk to your children from any previous relationships to ensure that they are not left out of the process.

Second, sit down with an estate planning attorney and put together a plan. Take into consideration what you want to accomplish in the long run and figure out who will serve as your executor and/or trustee.

Lastly, ensure that your beneficiary forms are up to date. Life insurance, bank and retirement accounts all have beneficiaries listed when you set them up. Make sure as life changes happen, these beneficiaries reflect your current desires.

If you take into consideration these tips, estate planning for those with blended families does not have to be a complicated process.

Brian J. Smalls, Esq.

Brian J. Smalls, Esq., is an Estate Planning and Business Law Attorney in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia (Williamsburg, VA and Newport News, VA). He is the founding partner at The Law Office of Brian J. Smalls, P.C. A former football player at the University of Michigan, Brian is married to the beautiful Sonya Renee Smalls, and they have two wonderful children, Brayden and Brielle.

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