Estate Planning When You Have a Stepfamily

When a second marriage joins two families together, it is often a time for celebration as two families come together and become a new family unit. However, it might also lead to inheritance fights, particularly between stepparents and children. A good estate plan is important to help avoid these quarrels.

Complications can arise especially when two people who marry both have children from previous relationships. It is common for married people to leave everything to their spouse. In these cases, children from the previous relationship may now see their inheritance go to their stepparent, who may then leave it to their own children. If additional children are added to the relationship, things can end up being even more complicated.

Each couple needs to redo their estate plan before getting remarried. Here are some ideas for reducing or eliminating disputes before they occur:

  • Consider a trust. A trust can allow you to leave money to your spouse for your spouse’s lifetime and then pass the balance to your children. There are many different types of trusts that can be structured to fit your family’s particular needs.
  • Leave something for your children. Even if the majority of your estate will go to your spouse, you may want to consider leaving some of it to your children in your will. It is a sign of good will, and it won’t leave your children waiting for their stepparent to die.
  • Buy life insurance. Life insurance can be a good way to make certain your children receive inheritance after you die. You can leave your estate to your spouse, but also take out a life insurance policy with your children as beneficiaries.
  • Divide personal property. Family heirlooms with sentimental value can end up being a huge source of problems. You can make your wishes known by writing up a list of personal items and the names of which person they should go to and attaching this list to your will.

If you are planning on remarrying and want to make sure your wishes are carried out with as few issues as possible, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC, 708-482-7090 or