“Blended” families – which include children from earlier unions – have become the norm. The diplomatic challenges of day-to-day interactions among ex-spouses, stepchildren and multiple grandparents are well-known. Less recognized is how much chaos can result – even with amicable relations – without careful consideration of how these complex relationships affect estate planning.
So-called “blended” families – a mixture of children and parents of various marriages and biological/legal relationships – have quickly become commonplace. If your family is blended, be mindful of the attending complexities when planning your estate.
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?
Consider including provisions in your estate plan that discourage troublemakers from challenging your wishes. Regardless, estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project. This especially is true when making estate plans for a blended family.