As the rate of divorce and remarriage has increased over the years, blended families have become the norm. One or both spouses may have children from previous marriages, creating a variety of living arrangements in the family home.
And if you think that managing a blended family can be challenging to the typical family “routine”, imagine what it does to a typical estate plan.
In fact, blended families can present some pretty unique challenges to the estate planning process, the most common of which is finding a balance between the interests of your current family unit and providing for the children of your previous marriage.
And while every situation is different, there are a few tips that you can use now to minimize the stress and conflict that can arise when dividing up a blended family estate:
- If you are entering into a blended family, get a prenuptial agreement in place up-front. If you are already a part of a blended family, then a post-nuptial agreement will work just as well. The key to these agreements is to clearly set out what needs to be divided and how it should be distributed before the marriage has a chance to unravel.
- Keep open communication with your children and spouse. Often times when a parent passes on and leaves the spouse as the executor of their will, then the children feel they are getting the raw end of the deal. Even if your spouse carries out your wishes as you have them laid out, there still may be some underlying animosity. Letting everyone know your wishes while you’re still alive will give them a clear picture of what to expect when you’re no longer around.
- Some people choose to record the execution of their will so that there is hard evidence that your will truly represents your wishes. This is also a great way to connect with your children from a previous marriage since they’ll hear you read the terms of the will on video rather than getting it from a step-parent after you’re gone.
Marvin J. Frank, Esq.
Frank & Kraft, A Professional Corporation
135 N. Pennsylvania Street, Suite 1100
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 684-6111 fax