Here’s the story…. of Why Estate Planning is Essential for Blended Families

When The Brady Bunch aired in the 70s, it showed a fairly idyllic representation of a blended family, with only the first season discussing the awkward adjustments and possible rivalries of bringing together two already-existent families. Even when such problems were shown, they were inevitably solved and wrapped up with a bow before the end credits. 

In our real world, the  challenges inherent in a blended family structure touch on many aspects of life, including (and perhaps especially) estate planning. For many blended families, a standard or simple will would be insufficient to address the many possible difficulties. For examples, consider the following scenarios:

Tension between kids and a young bride

Michael (56), a wealthy wine producer, has two children–Jake (21) and Carly (19)–from a previous marriage. He marries Julia (26). Intending to care for his wife and children, he establishes a trust upon his death which pays income to Julia for her lifetime, and names his two children as remainder beneficiaries. Such trust language is extremely common in estate plans. Years after their father passes away, Jake and Carly get resentful that they have to wait until Julia’s death to receive their inheritance. 

Estranged Step-children

Wilma and Fred, who each have adult children, decide to marry. Fred passes away, and Wilma inherits all of his wealth, and moves to be close to her daughters. As the years pass, she has no contact with Fred’s children, and decides to leave all of her wealth to her daughters. Fred’s children are understandably angry that they get no portion of their father’s wealth. 

Long-term Care Eating at Inheritance 

Daphne and Derek marry in their sixties, with each having adult children. Daphne has significantly more wealth than Derek, who has conditions that may require long-term care in the future. Daphne is concerned that her children’s inheritance may be diminished if she solely has to pay for Derek’s care. 

Each of these situations can be addressed and remedied by proper estate planning. We at Wood Law are well equipped to ensure that your estate plan is an accurate representation of your desires. With us, you can be assured that your estate plan will not only just address your concerns, but also many worst-case scenarios. 

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