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Financial Considerations for Stepfamilies

Financial Considerations for Stepfamilies

April 18, 2024

The U.S. Census estimates for 2019 say that about 24% of new marriages in the U.S. include at least one spouse who was previously married.1 A family of two or more adult partners that includes at least one child from a previous relationship, living with them or nearby, is a blended family, also called a stepfamily. A blended family may come with challenges and benefits.

What financial factors might you consider when you and your spouse become a blended family?

Deciding to Have Separate or Combined Accounts

Whether to combine financial accounts after marriage is a personal one that depends on your circumstances. In some cases, especially if you are receiving child support, it may make sense to maintain your separate pre-marriage accounts to not go through the hassle of switching payments to a new account.

In other situations, you may want to consolidate all your checking and savings accounts into a single joint one so that both spouses may keep an eye on your combined income and spending. You may also take the hybrid approach of maintaining separate and combined accounts to provide more flexibility.

Drafting Guardianship and Will Documents

If you died tomorrow, would your assets pass to your intended beneficiaries? Where would your children live?

Having a will and guardianship documents drawn up by an attorney may help your surviving loved ones.  Your will is a legal document, which may include your wishes regarding caring for your children and the distribution of your assets after your death.

For example, you may want to make your children the direct beneficiaries of your life insurance policies or specific assets.  If you leave everything to your spouse and your surviving spouse remarries, those assets could eventually pass to his or her new spouse instead of your children. These examples are just possibilities and not legal advice. Be sure to seek competent legal counsel, as needed, to prepare a will and guardianship documents.

Maintaining Communication

When you merge your financial life with someone else’s, you may make wrong assumptions or draw incorrect conclusions. It might be helpful to maintain an open line of communication with your spouse so that you deal with potential problems or misinterpretations if they occur.

You may even want to consider scheduling a regular weekly or monthly household meeting to discuss finances, particularly the family budget and any changes to your shared goals or progress.

Talking With a Financial Professional

As a blended family, many financial decisions may come up. A financial professional may help you understand your options and might guide you with a review of your financial goals.

 

Important Disclosures:

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

 LPL Tracking #1-05164767

Sources

Four-in-Ten Couples are Saying “I Do,” Again
https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2014/11/14/four-in-ten-couples-are-saying-i-do-again

Ten Years of Change in Remarriage
https://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr/resources/data/family-profiles/reynolds-ten-years-change-remarriage-fp-20-20.html

2019 estimates 
NUMBER OF TIMES MARRIED BY SEX BY MARITAL STATUS FOR THE POPULATION 15 YEARS AND OVER
https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=married%20before&tid=ACSDT1Y2019.B12505

Blended family definition
https://sociologydictionary.org/blended-family/

Definition of a Blended Family (stepfamily)
https://family.lovetoknow.com/definition-blended-family

What Is a Will and Why Do I Need One Now?
https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/08/what-is-a-will.asp