Blended families come with unique joys and challenges. When it comes to an estate, the chance of a dispute can be higher as there tends to be more jealousy and sibling rivalry at play. When a parent dies, or both parents die, these disputes can surface as each side tries to fight for what they feel is rightfully theirs. Here’s how you can lessen the chance of a dispute:
The first step in avoiding an estate dispute is to have a will in place. Without a valid will, the state will decide where your assets go, which usually will be to the surviving spouse. If you want to ensure that specific family heirlooms or assets will go your children, you need to have a will in place. To avoid arguments later on, be sure to discuss the contents of the will with the whole family. If everyone feels his or her voice is heard, the possibility of a dispute is reduced.
You also might consider creating a trust to give you more control over how the assets are distributed. An estate planning attorney can help you determine which type of trust is best suited to your needs.
Other considerations specific to blended families include understanding what your legal obligations may be to your former spouse and his or her existing family. This is especially important if you are closer to your stepchildren or children from a new marriage than you are to the children you share with your ex. If you want to leave all of your assets to your current spouse, make sure that all your children see him or her as a stepparent, not just your husband or wife. Communication in blended families is critical. Discussing your intentions openly can help avoid a conflict after your death.
If you are a member of a blended family and are concerned that an estate dispute is imminent, or if you are concerned that your estate might be subject to a dispute after your death, contact us today for a consultation.