If you have a blended family, you are in the majority of families in America today, and you have some special estate planning considerations you must address if you want to ensure the best possible outcome for your loved ones.
A blended family is where one or both spouses have children from a previous marriage, or the children are grown and either they or their spouses have their own children from a previous marriage.
Here are some examples of common estate planning issues that may arise in blended families:
- Disinheritance of children: Tom and Lisa both have children from a previous marriage. Tom has two boys and Lisa has two girls. Tom and Lisa both have wills that give everything to the surviving spouse and then to the kids after the death of the surviving spouse. However, after Tom passes away, Lisa moves closer to her daughters and forms a very strong bond with them in her remaining years, but grows distant from Tom’s kids. She eventually decides to change her will to leave almost all of her estate to her daughters and very little to Tom’s sons.
- Delays in inheritance that lead to litigation: Frank, a man in his late fifties, marries Sheryl, a young woman in her early thirties. Frank has two grown children from a previous marriage who are close to Sheryl’s age. Frank creates a trust that provides income for Sheryl during her lifetime, but ultimately transfers all his assets to his children once Sheryl dies. After Frank dies, his children become impatient and resentful that they must wait so long to inherit the trust assets. They sue Sheryl over excessive trust distributions and the family is embroiled in bitter litigation for years.
- Long term care of step-parent uses up child’s inheritance: Mary has adult children from a previous marriage and gets remarried to Joe, an older man in his 70’s. Mary has considerable assets but is concerned that Joe will need long term medical care, which would use up much of Mary’s wealth, leaving little for her children’s inheritance.
Each of these scenarios has some sensitive estate planning issues that require the counsel and expertise of an experienced and trusted estate planning attorney. If handled correctly, you can rest assured that your blended family will have the best chance of avoiding long and bitter conflict or financial and legal hassles.
Obtain the high-quality legal representation you need – contact lead attorney Hannah Sargent today for your free consultation in Alameda County and man years of experience!