Having a robust plan for passing on wealth is essential to ensure that your assets are distributed to your wishes, and it’s even more important to do so when you have a more complex family situation. Tasha Dickinson, a partner at Day Pitney in West Palm Beach, Florida, said that estate disputes are particularly common when stepchildren are involved, especially regarding real estate assets.
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Dickinson, who works with high-net-worth individuals in planning their estates, notes that estate planning for blended families is complex — there are a number of additional issues unique to these families that must be addressed in the estate plan in order to mitigate litigation. Here’s what she said needs to be considered when planning an estate that involves children from a previous marriage.
Plan With the Possibility of Disagreements in Mind
Dickinson notes that when you are the tie that binds a blended family together, you should be prepared for fractures to occur when you die. You need to keep this in mind when creating your estate plan.
“The guiding premise in this area is that the decedent parent is the glue,” she said. “Without that person, any fissures in relationships will grow and this is the recipe for disaster. Relationships between blended family members rarely improve in this situation. Clients who acknowledge this and plan accordingly typically have a more seamless transfer of their assets than others.”