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Proactive estate planning can benefit blended families

Remarriage and blended families are increasingly common today across both Maryland and the U.S. According to the Pew Research Center, data from a 2013 study showed that 40 percent of new marriages were a subsequent marriage for at least one spouse. In 1960, this number was at just 13 percent.

For blended families, the already complex topic of estate planning can be especially daunting. You may be hesitant on how to approach the subject with your spouse while adult children may grow concerned on their parent’s preparedness for the unknown.

Protecting against the possibility of future conflict

Even the closest of families can become embroiled in a contentious estate litigation process following the death of a parent or step-parent. Whether due to confusion over unclear terms, outrage over the contents of the estate plan, no estate plan left behind or other conflicts, blended families can face unique and complex estate disputes.

Whether you remarried last year or ten years ago, it is critical to either create or revisit your estate plan to protect your family against the unknown. When doing so, consider:

  • Updating your beneficiary designations on all estate planning documents to avoid the possibility of a former spouse inheriting your assets
  • Deciding how best to provide for both your spouse and children, potentially by incorporating a trust into your estate plan
  • Taking into account anything that could be affected by a prenuptial agreement or divorce settlement from a previous marriage
  • Discussing your plans with your family in a comfortable manner to proactively address your plans and reduce the possibility of future disputes

No matter your goals, taking the time to thoughtfully plan your estate can ease future tension, confusion and animosity between family members.

What adult children can do

In many families, approaching the topic of your parent’s estate plan may feel uncomfortable or even inappropriate. However, discussing key considerations such as whether they have the necessary documents in order, the location of such documents and more can both clarify their plans and potentially ease the eventual probate and estate administration process.

Many families no longer resemble the traditional family unit. While this can bring a lot of happiness and love to many families, it can also complicate already complex matters. As navigating the estate plan of a deceased loved one can quickly become riddled with conflict, having a proactive discussion with loved ones can ease tensions and clarify expectations.

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