If Yours Is a Blended Family

Blended families face unique estate planning challenges.  If you are part of a blended family, many of the estate planning decisions you make will have not only financial consequences, but inter-personal and emotional ones as well.  An good estate planner should have experience working with blended families, and he or she can help you create an estate plan that will provide fairly for all the members of your family.

Among the questions that blended families need to think about are the following:

  • If there are children in your blended family who are not your own (for example, if your current spouse brought children of his or her own into your marriage), will your estate plan treat those children as if they were yours?
  • Will your current spouse and you have identical estate plans?  Or will your spouse’s estate plan provide for his or her own children, while your estate plan will provide for your own children?
  • If your children can expect to inherit significant assets from their other parent (i.e. your former spouse), will those assets be taken into account when you create your estate plan?
  • Do you or your current spouse have financial obligations to your respective former spouses that need to be taken into consideration in the estate planning process?
  • Is there a wide disparity in age between the eldest and youngest child in your blended family?  If so, should the age disparity be taken into consideration in your estate plan?  For example, if a man had children with his first wife in his 20s, and then had children with his second wife in his 40s, should his estate plan provide more for the children of the second wife, since they have a longer road than the others toward becoming fully mature, educated, and employable?