Blended families are becoming increasingly more common. When a Canadian marries an American, one or both newlyweds may have been married previously. If the newlyweds have children from these previous marriages, a cross-border blended family is created once the wedding ceremony is complete.
Living in a blended family creates new estate planning considerations as spouses may shift intentions: newlyweds often want to provide for their surviving spouse’s well-being after they each pass away while ensuring that children from their previous marriage will be similarly provided for as beneficiaries of their estate.
The considerations for Canadian blended families mirror the considerations that blended cross-border families must reflect upon. As mentioned, protecting children from a previous marriage becomes paramount after cross-border spouses tie the knot, as does preventing one’s ex-spouse from being able to lay claim to one’s estate.
The complications of the Canadian spouse retaining property in Canada post-marriage and/or having children who live in Canada makes cross-border estate planning particularly important, as all plans created in the US post-move must consider the beneficiaries that may still be living in Canada. Wills and trusts must be properly drafted to reflect intentions on both sides of the border while considering cross-border tax law and other rules that vary by jurisdiction, such as probate. We are happy to assist our Canadian clients with the process of determining the best course of action for their estate plans after marrying an American who already has children.