Plan For The Future With Confidence

Plan For The Future With Confidence

How do you create an estate plan with a blended family?

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Estate planning

A blended family is a family unit where one or both partners have children from an earlier relationship. It is formed when parents remarry or cohabit after a divorce, separation or death of a spouse.

While blended families provide many benefits, they also present unique challenges, especially when it comes to estate planning and ensuring fair treatment of all children involved. With children from earlier relationships, it’s crucial to have a well-crafted plan that addresses potential conflicts and ensures fair distribution of assets.

This blog will tackle some tips for those looking to start on or update their estate plan with a blended family.

Communicating your wishes

Clear communication is key in blended family estate planning. Openly discuss your goals and intentions with your spouse, children and other beneficiaries. This can help prevent misunderstandings and disputes down the line.

Per stirpes vs per capita

When leaving assets to grandchildren, you’ll need to decide whether to distribute per stirpes (by branch) or per capita (by person). Per stirpes ensures that if a child predeceases you, their share goes to their children. Per capita treats all grandchildren equally.

Treating children fairly

Under Maryland law, children are entitled to a share of their parent’s estate unless they receive advanced inheritance or are specifically disinherited. Stepchildren have no legal claim unless adopted. Carefully review your plan to treat biological and stepchildren as intended.

Using trusts

Trusts can be powerful estate planning tools for blended families. A revocable living trust allows you to specify how to distribute assets among beneficiaries during and after your lifetime. An irrevocable life insurance trust can provide for stepchildren without disinheriting biological children.

Updating your plan

As laws and family situations evolve, regularly review and update your estate plan. A legal professional experienced in estate planning may be able to advise you on your plan and help keep your assets protected, even if you have a blended family.

A well-maintained plan helps ensure your final wishes are properly conducted. A little legal counsel may benefit you, especially if your blended family starts to complicate your plan.