We all remember “The Brady Bunch” television show growing up with the happily married parents Mike & Carol Brady with Carol’s three daughters and Mike’s three sons from their first marriages. This is what we call “blended” families – a mixture of children and parents of various marriages and biological/legal relationships which have quickly become commonplace. If your family is blended, be mindful of the attending complexities when planning your estate. Let’s say Mike died first, who would get Mike’s assets and property? Would it be Carol his wife or would it be Mike’s three boys Greg, Peter and Bobby? Hmmm, maybe Mike’s beneficiaries would be Carol and her three girls, Marcia, Jan and Cindy? Now, what if Carol gets remarried after Mike died and she dies next. Hmm, who would get Carol’s estate? Her three girl’s or maybe her new spouse Beau and his children? I think you can see how complicated a blended family can get without proper and timely estate planning. I think you can also see how easily the fighting and turmoil can begin because the family’s leaders “the parents” failed to take action to create a proper estate plan to protect their children.
Granted, every family is unique. So it is with blended families. Some are created early in life and others are formed later in life. One or both spouses may be widowed or divorced, even multiple times with multiple “sets” of children from prior relationships. As you can see, the family dynamics alone can get complicated very quickly.
Who will inherit what, when will they inherit and who will control the inheritance? When inheritance issues are added to the other family dynamics, everything can explode like nitro and glycerin shaken together. The Poughkeepsie Journal recently considered this topic in an article titled “Plan estate carefully for blended family.”
As you imagine, communication is key. Blended families who are open and share at least the general contours of their estate plans have fewer problems. That noted, however, you know your family members best. For example, which children or in-laws are most likely to become outlaws?
Consider including provisions in your estate plan that discourage troublemakers from challenging your wishes. Regardless, estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project. This especially is true when making estate plans for a blended family.
Have you or your elderly loved ones got your affairs in order by updating your Will and Trust so that your home and cash assets are protected?? There has been many changes in laws and your life that may have impacted your estate plan. Call us for a review!
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation please call Attorney Patrick Kelleher at 781-871-PLAN (7526) or by email at Pat@myfamilylifeplan.com
Our firm helps families taking care of them for life. We not only “create” their Will and Trust, but we “maintain it and keep it updated” for them throughout their life! The meter is not running for our ‘Client Care Plan’ members!
Patrick J. Kelleher is a South Shore, MA resident and estate planning attorney serving and protecting families and businesses in the South Shore, MA area. For more information on estate planning visit our firm’s website at www.MyFamilyLifePlan.com where you can check out our Blog, free Newsletter library, free Estate Planning Channel on Youtube and sign up for a Free e-Newsletter!
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This article is not intended to provide legal or tax advice or create or imply an attorney-client relationship. No information contained herein is a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney.
Reference: The Poughkeepsie Journal (February 23, 2013) “Plan estate carefully for blended family”