Blended families are becoming more common in Maryland and across the United States, which is creating some new concerns when it comes to certain issues. For example, estate planning is more complicated for blended families than for traditional ones. Thinking through the special considerations long before there’s a crisis is the best way to ensure that everyone in the family is accounted for and provided for in the final estate plan.
Defining blended families
In a blended family, there is often a couple with children of their own in addition to children from their previous relationships. Blended families involve at least one stepparent and one stepchild; if the stepchild is not legally adopted, it could cause issues if there’s no official estate plan in place when the parent dies.
Blended families and estate plans
Having a blended family can make it harder to plan for disability and death. Consider the issue of naming a guardian for minor children. Parents do this when they write their wills, but in a blended family, common estate law questions become more complicated. Who will get custody? Will the sibling group be split up? Will they be able to stay in close contact?
Financial gifts in trusts or wills can also be a sticking point in blended families, such as if a parent prefers to leave more to their biological child. This may be especially true if they know that a stepchild will be provided for by their biological parents and grandparents.
Estate planning is always an ongoing process that should be revisited as families evolve. This is particularly true in blended families. With help from an attorney and financial planner, it’s possible to create an estate plan that represents everyone’s interests.