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Estate Planning for a Blended Family

James P. Peterson Attorney at Law March 24, 2023

Information about Estate planning and old glassesEveryone knows how wonderful and complicated families can be, and this is true no matter your particular situation. However, if you’ve remarried, you’re likely facing additional challenges now that you’re blending two families together. Specifically, there are estate planning considerations in blended families that are unique and will require updating a will to account for the new spouse and stepchildren. 

If you’d like to speak with an estate planning attorney about establishing or revising an existing will or trust, contact James P. Peterson Attorney at Law. The firm is proud to serve individuals and families in Boerne, New Braunfels, San Antonio, and the rest of Texas.  

Why Estate Planning Is Important for Blended Families  

Estate planning for a blended family tends to be a complicated process, but it’s also an important step to ensure everyone is looked after and provided for. Often, the two new spouses will have already established an estate plan with their previous partners, but this will likely need to change upon remarriage. If this doesn’t happen, children may be at risk of being disinherited or your previous spouse may still be in line to receive assets that you no longer intend for them. Essentially, any time you experience a major change in your family structure, your estate plan should be updated. 

Estate Planning Challenges for a Blended Family  

It can be hard enough to bring two families together, but aside from any logistical or interpersonal issues, there are other challenges you’ll face when estate planning. One of the biggest challenges is how to set up your inheritance so that it actually passes to the correct individuals. For example, if you fail to disinherit your ex-spouse and then you die before they do, your assets will most likely go to them if that’s how it was set up in your previous marriage. Alternatively, if you’ve left assets for your minor children but die before your ex-spouse, they will likely become the manager of the assets until the children come of age. If you don’t wish this to happen, then you must legally appoint someone else to this role. 

Options for the Estate Plan 

The most important thing you can do when marrying and entering into a blended family is talk openly and honestly with your new spouse about your plans. This should also include a trusted estate planning attorney who can address your changing priorities and ensure your estate planning documents accurately reflect your wishes. This process will look different for every client. For some, it may mean writing a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, while others may choose to set up a trust so they can hand-pick the trustee who will manage their child’s inheritance. There’s also the option of writing in a no-contest provision which means that if anyone chooses to contest your will, they lose their share of the estate. 

Common Mistakes in Estate Planning for Blended Families  

There are a number of common mistakes that are made in estate planning for blended families, but perhaps the biggest is not changing your beneficiaries in your will or on life insurance policies, pensions, or retirement funds. Another common mistake is thinking you have to treat all children—natural and stepchildren—equally. Instead, think about each child’s individual needs and what other kinds of assets or inheritance they may be getting. Finally, do not make the mistake of thinking you can take care of all this on your own. Always work with a competent lawyer who can help you create well-written and legally-binding estate planning documents. 

Plan for Your Family’s Best Interests 

You don’t have to go through this process alone. If you're in the San Antonio, Texas region and would like to meet with an attorney to discuss your concerns about your remarriage and your estate, reach out to James P. Peterson Attorney at Law.