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Including stepchildren in your estate plan

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2021 | Estate Planning, Family Law

Blended families are becoming more and more common nowadays. Whenever two people who had been married previously get married, they create a whole new family. In addition to acclimating your children to their new living situation, there are a few important estate planning affairs to keep in consideration if you want to avoid severe problems down the road.

The problem

Consider the following scenario. You and your new spouse both have children from previous marriages. You pass away before your spouse, and all of your possessions go to them. When they pass away, their (and your) possessions are distributed to their own children. Since your own children were not in your spouse’s will, they will get nothing from your spouse’s estate.

The above scenario is all too common in the world of blended families. Not only does it lead to heartache and harsh feelings between stepsiblings, but it often results in lawsuits and family members engaging in vicious battles in the court system.

How to prevent it

In order to prevent this in your own family, it is essential that both you and your spouse get your estate plans amended once you get married. You can both include each other’s children alongside your own children among your named beneficiaries.

Make sure that you specifically list your stepchildren by name in your amended estate plan. That will help your children to avoid any potential lawsuits that can arise from the use of ambiguous language such as “all my children” in your will.

Having a blended family comes with all sorts of challenges. It can also be an extremely rewarding experience. If you take the right steps to prepare, you can help to prevent the newly formed family you worked so hard to nurture from being torn apart once you’re gone.