Introduction to Estate Planning for Blended Families

This website will devote a substantial amount of time to the special estate planning issues involved with blended families.  This post will serve as a short introduction.

Divorce rates are high in the U.S., leading to many people entering into second or third marriages. Additionally, people often bring children from prior relationships into their first marriage.  The term “blended family” generally refers to married couples with children where one or both spouses has children from a prior relationship.

The broad challenges faced by blended families are how to provide for your spouse, provide for your joint children, and also provide for children from previous relationships.  These competing goals can cause tension, so it is necessary to talk through your plans and goals with your spouse, so that the tension is minimized when you pass away.  Here are just several of the many common concerns in blended family situations:

  • An ex-spouse controlling your assets
  • Insufficient money to meet everyone's needs or goals
  • Family disputes upon a death
  • Your assets not going to your children at your death
  • Your assets coming under the control of your spouse's new partner if your spouse remarries after your death
  • Your children from a previous relationship being disinherited by your spouse after your death
  • Favoritism towards your spouse's children from a prior relationship
  • Keeping certain property in your family, such as heirlooms or a business

Estate planning is not a one-time event, but evolves with your changing circumstances and family dynamics.  Proper estate planning is especially important for people in blended family situations.  An estate planning attorney can help spouses reconcile their goals and implement the right planning tools, so that your family is provided for in the manner you desire.