Estate Planning with Blended Families

Estate planning and end-of-life issues are often difficult to discuss. These discussions may become even more difficult when blended families are involved. The topic of blended families and estate planning was recently addressed in an article in Investment News. The article cited statistics from a 2011 Pew Research Center study that claims 42% of American adults have a step relationship. A step relationship can include a stepparent, step- or half-sibling, or a stepchild.

Distribution of money and personal property can be increasingly complex for stepfamilies. Personal possessions that have sentimental value can make the situation even more complicated. Investment News describes there being a “giant elephant in the room” with distribution planning in stepfamilies, stating that these decisions can be an “emotional minefield charged with sentiment, entitlement and possibly the animus of various relationships.”

How can conflict and confusion be avoided for blended families? Addressing this topic openly and honestly is the first step. As mentioned in our previous blog, it is also important to consider sentimental personal items in addition to finances. Knowledgeable professionals, such as elder law attorneys can help you navigate this process, consider all options, and create a dialogue between you and your family to help clearly explain how assets and valuables will be divided.