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Estate Planning for Blended Families

Estate planning for blended families (meaning families with step-children) is essentially the same as traditional families, with some additional considerations. This typically boils down to resolving questions related to the timing of step-children receiving their inheritances, and balancing the needs of the surviving spouse to continue living out his or her life to the fullest.

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Questions people often ask us include:

  1. Does the surviving spouse have full control and discretion over the couple’s entire marital property portfolio until his or her death?

    In this scenario, the step-children would wait to receive their eventual inheritance until both spouses have died.

  2. After the first death, must the surviving spouse make an immediate distribution of property to the deceased spouse’s children, to ensure they receive an inheritance?

    In this scenario, the step-children receive an immediate distribution of their inheritance, to ensure they receive something and do not have to wait for their step-parent to die at a later date.

  3. Or must the surviving spouse follow a hybrid formula, where the survivor is in complete control and possession of the entire martial asset portfolio, but he or she is restricted from later disinheriting the deceased spouse’s children and/or must preserve a certain amount of the family estate for the step-children’s eventual inheritance?

    By leaving the surviving spouse in complete control of the couple’s assets, he or she will likely have enough money and property to live comfortably for the rest of their lifetime. This can be especially important if the couple does not possess large amounts of wealth, where a forced payout to the step-children after the death of the first spouse could cause a catastrophic financial situation for the survivor.


What is the Best Option for Me?

The best option for you depends on your individual and familial circumstances and we’re here to help you along that path. Contact the estate planning attorneys at Grieve Law to discuss your options and plan your future.