The term “blended family” has become commonplace in our society and refers to a family where one or both spouses were previously married and have children from the prior marriage. In some instances, the new couple goes on to have children of their own. With children, stepchildren and ex-spouses involved, estate planning can get quite complex.
When you are trying to take all the different interests involved with your blended family into account, you need help to ensure you provide for everyone adequately. And to ensure you avoid conflict after your death or incapacity, as that’s quite common in blended family situations.
Without a well-crafted estate plan to establish how you want your surviving spouse and children to receive your assets, the distributions made pursuant to the law (or a poorly drafted plan) could lead to tremendous conflict among your loved ones and significant unintended consequences. To create a comprehensive estate plan that achieves the results you want, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced lawyer.
Deciding how to divide your wealth and assets between your surviving spouse and your biological children can be difficult. If you are close with your stepchildren or you have adopted them, you must take their interests into account as well. This means that you may need to address issues such as child custody and support once you are gone. You will also want to avoid mistakes such as:
- Your children being unintentionally disinherited (by everything going to your spouse)
- Your children’s inheritance being postponed until your spouse dies (that’s often the fastest path to family conflict)
- Your ex-spouse making a claim on your estate
Family fighting or litigation over your estate or to gain the authority to act
With so many issues to consider, it is necessary to make these decisions while you are healthy and you have the time to create the best strategy for drafting your estate plan whether you have a lot of money or not. If you want to take action to protect your blended family, contact us to schedule an appointment. Let us help minimize the chance of family conflict and ensure your wishes are carried out when you are gone.