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Navigating Estate Planning for Blended Families

By: Heather Ward, Esq. April 26, 2024 no comments

Navigating Estate Planning for Blended Families

Blended families require a unique perspective when it comes to estate planning. These families are those with one or both spouses who has children from previous relationships. Because of the family dynamic and each spouse wanting to protect assets for both their spouse and their children, there can be unique challenges and considerations that should be taken into account. Here are some items you should be sure to consider and speak to your estate planning attorney about:

1. Understanding Blended Family Dynamics: Be sure to discuss the complexities of your blended family, including issues related to stepchildren, ex-spouses, and potential conflicts among family members. For example, do you want the children to inherit only upon the death of both spouses, or to receive something when their biological parent has passed?

2. Fairness vs. Equality: There are many items to consider when it comes to this. While it may seem equitable to divide assets equally among all children, it may not be fair if one set of children has greater financial needs or if relationships between stepparents and stepchildren are strained. Additionally, the spouses may not decide to divide equally by the number of children; instead, they may opt to divide 50/50 between each side (which may include joint children as well).

3. Protecting Spouses and Children: Discuss strategies for protecting both spouses and children from previous relationships. This may involve setting up trusts, updating beneficiary designations, and considering prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.

4. Communication: This should go without saying, but the importance of open communication among your family and with your attorney is crucial when it comes to planning for blended families. You can discuss things privately at home, or your attorney can sometimes help play the impartial third party to help you reach an agreement that best reflects your family dynamics and goals.

Individuals in blended families should seek professional guidance from an estate planning attorney who has experience navigating the complexities of these types of plans. Your attorney can help you determine your options and make informed decisions to protect your loved ones by ensuring your wishes are carried out effectively.

– Heather Ward, Esq.

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