Performing Successful Estate Planning When You Have a Blended Family

Family wealth has led to disputes over the years. Today, Hollywood also continues to make films like Knives Out that address what happens when families cannot agree on how an estate should be divided. Given that the Covi-19 pandemic has placed an increased amount of financial pressure on families, a growing number of people are disputing the terms of wills and other estate plans. Additionally, the number of blended families has grown substantially. Data reveals that currently, 16% of children live in “blended families”.  Blended families mean that personal finances are much more nuanced than they once were. 


Selecting who will inherit your assets and how much they will receive can be difficult even among the simplest family arrangements. When step-children or other aspects of blended families are involved, the chances for disputes rise greatly. 


Writing a Will that Decreases the Risk of Estate Planning Disputes


The process of creating wills that avoid disputes is more challenging with blended families because beneficiaries frequently do not get along with each other. Relationships evolve over time, so you cannot make sure that the position between beneficiaries is the same when you pass away as it was when a will was made. While it’s natural to want family members to be on good terms, it’s critical to protect beneficiaries during these difficult situations. Wills should address the wishes of the creator without questions, but even these can still be contested. Wills can also be challenged based on where beneficiaries are viewed as being domiciled.


The Importance of Discussing Estate Planning Goals


Besides establishing formal agreements among loved ones, the best way to avoid profile disputes is to openly discuss what people want to happen with assets if  family disputes later arise. It’s a good idea, for example, for married couples within blended families to review the proposed terms with their children, stepchildren, and everyone else who is likely to be impacted by the will. Estate planning should be viewed as not completed until it is adequately communicated to heirs. It’s a good idea to engage in inclusive and ongoing conversations that consider family input, explain your rationale, and are open to potential change. Planning and discussing your intention, however, becomes more nuanced and difficult based on your family tree as well as how your assets are held.  


Lack of communication often leads to family fights and disputes that have the potential to lead to the most bitter estate planning lawsuits. For some people to avoid the undesirable result of communication, people often must understand the undesirable results that occur when they fail to discuss estate plans with loved ones. 


Obtain the Assistance of an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer

If you or your loved ones have questions about the estate planning process, one of the best things that you can do is to speak with a skilled estate planning attorney. Contact Ettinger Law Firm today and during a free case evaluation, an attorney can discuss the best ways to achieve your estate planning goals.

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