Estate planning for blended families has become the norm. It is common, these days, for a husband and wife to each have children from prior marriages or relationships. But couples with blended families who fail to put the right estate legal program in order is a recipe for disaster.
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The conversation to me goes something like this, "Mr. Rabalais, we each have our own children. Right now, everything is ok...everybody gets along well. But I wasn't born yesterday. I know that when one of us dies, if we don't have our estate legal matters buttoned up just right, the kids of the first spouse to die will pounce on the surviving spouse like white on rice in an attempt to preserve their inheritance."
Louisiana law that applies in these circumstances is cumbersome at best. When a spouse is a blended family dies without a legal plan in place, the children of the deceased spouse can force the surviving spouse to purchase and post a bond that will protect the children's inheritance. And that's just for starters.
There are several components of the "intestate usufruct" that couples don't like: (1) the surviving spouse can't sell real estate or stock without the "permission" of the children of the first spouse to die. (2) If the surviving spouse is forced to spend assets over which she has usufruct, she still owes a debt to children of the 1st spouse to die for the full value of the usufruct. And (3) if the surviving spouse is not the parent of the children of the 1st spouse to die, the children of the 1st spouse to die can force the surviving spouse to post a bond to protect the interests of the children of the 1st spouse to die. These issues often wreck what was a delicate relationship to begin with.
There are number of legal strategies you can take advantage of in order for couples who are in a "blended family situation" to protect each other, but also protect the interests of the children.
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Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
Phone: (225) 329-2450