Planning for A Blended Family

In the United States, over 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce. With 75 percent of these partners remarrying at least once, blended families are becoming more and more common. A blended family is a new family that includes children from a previous marriage. As a recent article points out, members of blended families should be especially cautious when creating their estate plans.

It is important not to draft an over-simplified will. Some individuals leave their estate to a single person, under the belief that that person will understand and appreciate his or her wishes, and distribute the estate accordingly. The only way to be sure that your wishes will be followed, however, is to include them in your estate plan.

Each spouse should draft his or her own estate plan. If either spouse would like their step-children to receive anything from their estate, they must clearly specify that within their will. The default state laws that govern estates for which there is no will do not give anything to stepchildren.

It is also important to remember that money is not the only cause of family bickering after the death of a loved one. Often there are certain heirlooms or trinkets that hold special meaning to family members, regardless of their value. It is best to give these away during life, rather than allow your heirs to fight over them after your death.

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