Married couples in which one or both of the spouses have been previously married, or where they bring children from previous relationships, often face estate planning questions that are different than those other couples have to answer. Like every marital issue, adequately navigating the estate planning issues you face requires both you and your spouse to be open, honest, and communicative about your desires and your choices.
It’s important to remember that each of you has control over your own share of the estate, and each of you gets to decide how you wish to distribute your own property. However, your choices do not exist in a vacuum, and the decisions you make will affect other people.
This is especially true when you decide inheritance questions. If, for example, you have children and stepchildren, you will have to decide if you want to leave your stepchildren the same amount you leave your children, or if you wish to provide different inheritance amounts to each of your children.
Inheritance choices are not simply about money and property. They also, to the recipients, represent a physical embodiment of affection, emotional attachment, and other deep-seated personal connections.
When you think about the type of inheritance is you want to leave your children and stepchildren, it can be quite effective to openly discuss your decisions and reasons with your family. Even though discussing death can be a very difficult endeavor, talking about the inheritances you are thinking about leaving and the reasoning behind it can do a lot to ensure that there are no hard feelings or resentments caused by your choices.
The worst thing that couples with blended families can do is to fail to plan. This only increases the chances of discord and disputes when one or both spouses pass away and, as a result, increase the chances that your estate will only be resolved by contentious, expensive, time consuming legal proceedings.
An experienced and qualified estate planning attorney can guide you in reaching fair and legally enforceable planning decisions.