This is an article from the Leitner Law Office (http://goo.gl/QvZnQg) in Des Moines, Iowa, that we thought others may find helpful.
According to USA Today and a Pew Research Center study, more than half of all first marriages end in divorce, 75% of divorced individuals remarry, and 65% of these unions include children from previous marriages. Over all, more than 40% of American adults have at least one step-relative.
While estate planning is already an extremely complex area of law, the intricacies only multiply when a blended family is involved. A blended family has been defined as “a family that includes children from a previous marriage of one spouse or both.”
If you are in this boat and wish to craft an effective estate plan that would protect your loved ones, it is imperative you hire an experienced estate planning attorney immediately. In this instance, failing to secure legal assistance has one outcome: disaster. The USA Today article went on to say that one man said he was afraid that his step-children (who hadn’t been welcoming of him) would inherit all of his assets and his children would be left with nothing. As a result, he has taken to estate planning on his own which has infuriated and offended his wife.
In these situations it is not uncommon for one or more of the parents to wish to exclude some of the children. It is also not uncommon for spouses to disagree on what to do: one may want to benefit only his/her children while the other may want to provide for all the children. At other times, both parents may wish to benefit all the children.
Whether or not all the children are included in an estate plan, one or more children could receive a greater percentage of the inheritance than the others. You need to be informed of what factors apply to your circumstances; some couples wish that some or all of a deceased spouse’s property goes to their children at the time of the spouse’s death, as opposed to after the other spouse passes away. Some individuals want to place their assets in a joint trust, while others wish to keep their assets separate.
Looking into estate planning? Save yourself additional stress by not doing it on your own. While hiring an estate planning attorney to handle your estate plan is a wise move for any individual, it is especially crucial for blended families. Securing the legal assistance of a seasoned estate planning attorney will avoid conflict between children and step-parents and is necessary for your family’s future and your peace of mind. Take control of how your legacy is distributed and guarantee your assets are passed onto your children in a fair and timely manner by hiring an attorney to set up your estate plan.