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What Blended Families Need to Know About Estate Planning

Now that more people are getting divorced and marrying again, blended families are relatively common. Merging two families can come with a host of unexpected issues. One issue concerns estate planning. Estate planning in a blended family can cause many conflicts, but it also may keep the peace in the long run. It is important to understand a number of complexities members of blended families will face when planning their estates.

Plan For Emotions

Even if it may be uncomfortable or bring up emotional issues, it is crucial that estate planning happens in blended families. It may make sense to involve the whole family in estate planning so everyone is on the same page. Even if the family is not blended at this point, couples may want to talk about what estate planning would look like if one of them decided to remarry after the death of his or her spouse. These conversations can be difficult, but it is still easier than fighting about it afterwards.

Addressing Multiple Sets of Children

Many people may want to treat their biological children and stepchildren differently when it comes to inheritance, especially if the second marriage is much later in life. This can bring up interpersonal issues and the testator needs to not only think about the practical effects of the estate plan, but also the emotional effects. However, in the end the grantor’s wishes rule and when thinking about estate planning, blended families should prepare themselves for this possible painful, though understandable, difference in treatment between children.

Existing Support Obligations

Whether through child support, prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, divorce settlements, or other contracts or court ordered support, a previous divorce may have included continuing obligations to the former spouse or children of the previous marriage. Some agreements may also include inheritance designations and/or being the beneficiary of will substitutes such as life insurance policies. These obligations are important to keep in mind and include in the current estate plan.

Planning With Age Differences in Mind

Especially in second marriages, there may be a significant age difference between the parties. The difference in age and therefore life expectancy of spouses are important to acknowledge and plan for. For example, if a testator plans to leave everything to his or her children, but with the spouse getting income for his or her lifetime, if there is a large age difference the testator needs to realize that his or her children may not receive any inheritance for a very long time. While this kind of estate plan is typical in second marriages, it is not one size fits all and the specifics of the situation need to be taken into account.

Reach Out to Our Attorneys for Help

This article highlights only a few of the issues that blended families may face regarding estate planning. If you are in a blended family, you should talk to a knowledgeable blended family estate planning attorney to find out what specific estate planning tools your family should use. Our experienced blended family estate planning attorneys at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group in The Villages can help you to make the best plans for your estate.

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