The term “blended family” has become commonplace in our society and refers to a family where one or both spouses were previously married and have children from the prior marriage. In some instances, the new couple goes on to have children of their own. With children, stepchildren and ex-spouses involved, estate planning can get quite complex. Estate planning for blended families shouldn’t be complex, but it can get a little tricky.
When you are trying to take all the different interests involved with your blended family into account, you need help to ensure you provide for everyone adequately. And to ensure you avoid conflict after your death or incapacity, as that’s quite common in blended family situations.
Without a well-crafted estate plan to establish how you want your surviving spouse and children to receive your assets, the distributions made pursuant to the law (or a poorly drafted plan) could lead to tremendous conflict among your loved ones and significant unintended consequences. To create a comprehensive estate plan that achieves the results you want, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced lawyer.
Deciding how to divide your wealth and assets between your surviving spouse and your biological children can be difficult. If you are close with your stepchildren or you have adopted them, you must take their interests into account as well. This means that you may need to address issues such as child custody and support once you are gone. You will also want to avoid mistakes such as:
- Your children being unintentionally disinherited (by everything going to your spouse)
- Your children’s inheritance being postponed until your spouse dies (that’s often the fastest path to family conflict)
- Your ex-spouse making a claim on your estate
- Family fighting or litigation over your estate or to gain the authority to act
With so many issues to consider, it is necessary to make these decisions while you are healthy and you have the time to create the best strategy for drafting your estate plan whether you have a lot of money or not. If you want to take action to protect your blended family, contact us to schedule an appointment. Let us help minimize the chance of family conflict and ensure your wishes are carried out when you are gone.
A Note from the Attorney, Stan Pierchoski:
The practice of law is a second career for me. After obtaining Master of Science degrees in both Nuclear and Mechanical Engineering, I worked in the Nuclear Power Industry for 15 years. Always having an interest in law, I attended and graduated from law school and founded the Pierchoski Law Firm in 2002 in Pulaski, TN. For several years I practiced as a criminal defense, trial attorney. After my parents passed I became interested in Trust and Estate Law and felt a strong calling to change my practice to the Estate Planning area.
For years I have been exclusively doing trust writing and wealth planning and have become proficient at it. Over the last several years my practice has evolved to serve all age groups including elders and Medicaid Planning. I am always open to your questions and am more than happy to chat with you about your concerns so give me a call or stop by my office. You’ll be glad you did!