Updated estate planning is important for blended families

If you have remarried, questions will arise at some point concerning your estate. The number one question will be about who gets what, and how, after you die.

Beneficiary designations are not just about naming your heirs in a will. You may not have realized it, but these designations play a big role in any retirement accounts you might have, which in turn, play a big role when it comes to estate planning.

Setting clear goals

Data compiled by the Pew Research Center reveals that remarriages have steadily increased over the years. In 2013, at least one spouse had been married before in 40 percent of the unions studied, and both parties had been married previously in 20 percent of the marriages. In starting married life anew, you must think about your estate planning goals. Now you have a blended family involving, at the very least, a new spouse and children from your previous marriage. You want to ensure that they will all be cared for when you die. This may mean updating your current estate plan.

Changing retirement accounts and more

Since you have remarried, you may also need to update the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and insurance policies; these designations take precedence over everything else, such as whoever you might name in your will, for example. When family dynamics change, you want to be sure you change the primary beneficiary you have named in your IRA and other retirement programs. You might consider naming your current spouse and each of your children as primary beneficiaries and assigning a percentage of the assets to each.

Establishing a trust

Many people who have remarried find that creating a trust is a good way to set out the appropriate distribution of assets to heirs. Keep in mind, however, that you still need a will to address assets that exist outside the trust. An estate planning attorney experienced with assisting blended families will be able to sort through the complexities of your current circumstances and show you how best to plan for and protect all those you love.