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Estate Planning with Blended Families

My Spouse Has Children from a Former Marriage; What Happens to Our Property if My Spouse Dies ?
It is not uncommon to be married to someone who has children from a prior marriage.  Maybe you both have children from prior relationships.  It is also possible that some of the children are in common and some are from prior relationships.  Whatever the situation, without a Will or Trust, the Arizona statutes may direct where your estate goes at death.
There are a variety of ways that assets can be titled.  You could own something jointly with another person or you could own real property as “tenants in common.”  Tenants in common means when one of you dies, while you still own your share, the deceased person’s share becomes part of his/her estate and does not pass to you automatically as it would if titled “with rights of survivorship.”  Titling real property as “husband and wife” also does not create “rights of survivorship.”  If you have named beneficiaries on accounts, whether on a beneficiary form or as “payable on death” or “transfer on death”, such property will be distributed to those beneficiaries.  
However, if you own real property, a bank account, investment account, retirement account or other assets and there is no joint owner, no beneficiary named and it is not titled to a Trust, your estate may need to be probated at your death.  While the probate process might not be complicated, the outcome might come as a surprise.  
Generally, if you did not enter a pre or post nuptial agreement during the marriage, all earnings received after marriage are considered community property.  All property received as a gift or inheritance, if it has not been comingled with community assets during your life, is your sole and separate property.  
Any property that is subject to the probate is divided as follows:  your surviving children will receive your half of any community property and one-half of your sole and separate property and your surviving spouse will receive the other half of your sole and separate property.  Maybe it your intent to leave 50% of the property you received from your grandmother to your surviving spouse, or maybe you wanted your surviving spouse to get all of it, or even your children to get all of it. This brings to light the importance of estate planning. 
Another aspect to pay attention to is reviewing the Will or Trust that was signed prior to the marriage.  This document may also significantly impact how your property is distributed and whether that meets your present-day goals. 
While it may be unpleasant to think about, sometimes your relationship with your spouse’s children might feel very different when that person is no longer alive. 
A little bit of planning, in writing, can go a long way to avoid problems and surprises later! 

Raising Special Kids Has Another Great Training: Healthcare Systems During Covid 19

On May 19, 2020 Raising Special Kids (RSK) sent out an announcement. It’s message contained great news, which we really need right now. I should disclose my bias up front though. I truly love this organization. I have been a board member for several years and am currently the Board Chair. RSK serves children with any disability or special healthcare need, which is unlike any other disability organization. The staff are the most kind and dedicated people I have ever met and I’m so proud to be part of what they do. The good news is they are still working for you and your families. RSK continues to serve Arizona’s families whose children have disabilities and special health care needs with their full range of family support services. These programs and services are provided through phone, email, mail, online assistance, and virtual meetings. Physical offices are closed to the general public, but support staff continues to work from home. RSK serves and employs a significant percentage of people who have children with chronic health conditions that may put them at higher risk of severe illness. As a Board we approved these measures through June 30, 2020 to protect these amazing people, their children and families. RSK has resources for you.

Check out the RSK virtual trainings here:  Healthcare Systems During Covid 19

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