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Blended families present estate planning challenges

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2019 | Estate Planning |

It is not unusual for a married couple in Colorado to have children, and then later divorce. Sometimes, one or both parents will remarry, creating a blended family. While it is generally good for people to end a marriage that is simply not working out, and for these individuals to find love again when their children are grown, estate planning when it comes to blended families can be complex.

This is because an adult child may have concerns that their stepparent will inherit everything should their biological parent pass away first, leaving the adult child with nothing. However, with a carefully drawn estate plan, parents can provide for both their new spouse and their children from a previous marriage in a way that is fair to all.

Ultimately, parents who have divorced and remarried should consider several factors when executing their estate plan. They must decide who will inherit their assets, how their assets will be divided between their new spouse and their children from a previous marriage, at what age their children will inherit, whether the inheritance will be made outright or through a trust and who will serve as a fiduciary, executor or trustee to the parent’s estate.

For example, a marital trust can be established that will leave assets to the stepparent, while the adult children will be granted an accelerated inheritance. If a parent chooses to execute a trust, the trust can include a “statement of intent,” that lays out the details of how trust assets should be divvied out so that the parent’s children and spouse understand what their loved one’s wishes are. This could be especially useful if a parent’s assets are not being divided evenly between their spouse and children from a previous marriage.

Estate planning in blended families can be complicated, but it is possible to ensure that each party receives a fair and appropriate inheritance. Without clear instructions in one’s estate plan, adult children and stepparents may disagree on how one’s estate should be handled, leading to estate litigation. Therefore, it is important that parents who have divorced and remarried execute an estate plan that makes their intentions clear on how they want their assets passed on to their loved ones following their death.