When two people who already have children get married, they are typically happy to combine their families. The transition may be rocky at first, and some children may resent a stepparent for a time. Fortunately, over time, blended families tend to get along and love each other as they would biological relatives. Still, it is important to keep those family nuances in mind when estate planning.
Many factors can play a role in how a Pennsylvania parent decides to distribute assets between biological children and stepchildren. For instance, if the children are already adults when the parents marry, there may not be much reason for a stepparent to include the stepchildren in the estate plan because they may not have formed a strong bond and those children may not have a need. However, stepparents who raise stepchildren from a young age may consider them just as important as their biological children and entitled to a fair share.
The details can easily make estate planning tricky, but the following tips may help prevent hurt feelings or conflict:
- Consider setting up a trust in order to have more control over the distribution of assets if conflict is anticipated.
- Choose a trustee who will not show a bias toward the biological children over the stepchildren, or vice versa, when managing the trust.
- Inform the children about the plans and why certain decisions were made, especially if the asset distribution is not exactly equal.
- Be as fair as the situation warrants and remember that someone may end up dissatisfied no matter what.
No matter how Pennsylvania residents choose to involve their blended families while estate planning, it is important that they understand their options. Estate plans can be tailored to suit the specific needs of any individual, and using the right tools could make all the difference in ensuring that plans are clear and legally binding. If parties have questions about how to best plan for their blended family, they may want to contact experienced estate planning attorneys.