With nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce, there are many blended families throughout New Jersey and elsewhere. Parents who are raising children from more than one marriage may be concerned about how to draft an estate plan that includes everyone. While it may be a daunting task, it can be done as long as the couple discusses their wishes openly and honestly before taking any legal steps.
Estate plans are commonly set up to leave assets to the surviving spouse, but this may pose a challenge when there are stepchildren involved. It would become the surviving spouse's responsibility to ensure that his or her biological children and the stepchildren all receive a fair inheritance. Therefore, it may be helpful to explore various scenarios and how the assets would be distributed depending on which spouse survives.
It is normal for each spouse to have his or her own wishes when it comes to estate planning. Therefore, couples may find it beneficial to discuss their wishes with each other and come to an agreement that is respectful of both spouses' desires. To avoid any future conflict, couples may opt to discuss the estate plan with their children, including the rationale behind their decisions. This prevents any of the children from having false expectations once a parent passes away.
Drafting an estate plan that includes the children and stepchildren equally may be challenging, but it can help maintain family harmony. New Jersey couples may need guidance as they go through the process to make sure that they have considered all potential scenarios. Ensuring that all the children are treated equitably may offer the parents peace of mind and help the children stay in each other's good graces.
Source: Townhall Finance, "Estate Planning in a 2nd Marriage: What's Fair?" Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, Dec. 26, 2012