Estate Planning: Considerations When You Have a Stepfamily

Estate Planning Step-families

Estate Planning Tips for Blended Families

Ideally, when a second marriage joins two families together, it should be a joyous occasion that creates one bigger blended family unit. Unfortunately, when the estate plan lacks clarity, it too often also creates inheritance fights between stepparents and children. Fortunately, a good estate plan can help avoid these types of family squabbles.

Blending Families Can Complicate Inheritances

Complications can arise when two people who both have children from previous relationships marry. Married people typically leave everything to their spouse, so children from the previous relationship may now see their inheritance go to their stepparent, who may in turn leave it to his or her own children. Even if the stepparent promises to take care of the stepchildren, it doesn't always work out that way. And if additional children are added to the relationship, things can get even more complicated.

Reduce Estate Planning Disputes When Blending Families

Every couple needs to redo their estate plan before they get remarried. The following are some ideas for reducing or eliminating disputes before they arise:

 1. Consider a Trust.

A trust can allow you to leave money to your spouse for your spouse's lifetime and then pass the balance to your children. There are a variety of different types of trusts that can be structured to fit your family's particular needs.

 2. Leave Something for Your Children.

Even if the bulk of your estate is going to your spouse, you may want to consider leaving a little something to your children in your will. It is a sign of good will and it means your children won't be waiting around for their stepparent to die.

 3. Buy Life Insurance.

Life insurance can be a good way to make sure your children inherit. You can leave your estate to your spouse, but take out a life insurance policy with your children as beneficiaries.

4. Divide Personal Property.

Family heirlooms can be a big source of problems - even if their only value is sentimental. You can make your wishes known by writing up a list of personal items and the names of who they should go to and attaching it to your will.

If you are planning on remarrying, consult with an estate planning attorney to find the best way to make sure your wishes are carried out with as few issues as possible.

There are many considerations involved when planning your estate, and when blending a family with a second marriage and stepchildren, can leave even more things to consider. To make sure your heirlooms and inheritance is a gift and not a curse of confusion and hard-feelings after you're gone, give us a call at 440-930-2826 to schedule a free consultation. We enjoy putting to use our knowledge and expertise to provide you with the best advice on how to protect the ones you love.