Estate Planning for Blended Families – What You Need to Know

Blended Family 1

With more than 50 percent of first marriages failing and 75 percent of the partners remarrying, “blended” families — which include children from earlier unions — have become the norm.

When you have a mixture of children and parents of various marriages and biological/legal relationships, you have what’s called a “blended family.” If your family is blended, be careful when planning your estate and make sure you understand the difficulties at hand.

Granted, every family is unique. So it is with blended families. Some are created early in life and others are formed later in life. One or both spouses may be widowed or divorced, even multiple times with multiple “sets” of children from prior relationships. As you can see, the family dynamics alone can get complicated very quickly.

Who will inherit what, when will they inherit and who will control the inheritance? When inheritance issues are added to the other family dynamics, everything can explode like nitro and glycerin shaken together. The Poughkeepsie Journal recently considered this topic in an article titled “Plan estate carefully for blended family.”

As you imagine, communication is key. Blended families who are open and share at least the general contours of their estate plans have fewer problems. That noted, however, you know your family members best. For example, which children or in-laws are most likely to become outlaws?

Adding provisions to your estate plan is one way to hinder troublemakers from challenging your wishes. Remember, estate planning is not a DIY project, especially when it pertains to blended families.

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Reference: The Poughkeepsie Journal (February 23, 2013) “Plan estate carefully for blended family