Divorce and remarriage is no longer an unusual occurrence. In fact, countless families across Florida are comprised of remarried parents who share children and stepchildren. For many people, this is the very picture of happiness.
In the context of estate planning, however, the blended nature of families can present some obstacles. As this article on stepparents and estate plans discusses, more than half of the active cases regarding disputed estates involve stepparents and stepchildren. As such, you would be wise to take a few critical steps to protect your wishes and your family if you remarry and have stepchildren.
- Talk to your spouse and adult children about your plans. Explaining your wishes before a dispute arises can give your loved ones the opportunity to ask questions, request clarification and understand your choices. It can also prepare them for unexpected news, like unequal inheritances, and ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Consider a prenuptial agreement before remarriage. This document can ensure the assets you take into a marriage will stay with your natural children, if those are your wishes. After you get married, you should be sure to keep separate any of the assets you wish to save for your children.
- Update your estate plan regularly. Issues regarding fraud or undue influence can arise between children and stepparents, particularly if a parent is estranged or no longer close with his or her natural children. To avoid these types of challenges, be sure you update your plan regularly. You can also explain any unusual or unexpected terms so that they do not appear to be the result of manipulation.
Having a blended family can be wonderful, but there are challenges that can arise when stepparents, stepchildren and natural children disagree during the administering of an estate. To prevent such disagreements from causing any unnecessary pain and conflict when it comes to fulfilling the terms of your estate plan, it can be wise to plan ahead and discuss your legal options with an attorney.