Many California families are blended and include children from previous relationships along with biological children of both spouses. Having a blended family can enrich people’s lives. However, special issues might arise after one of the spouses passes away, making it important to be careful with estate planning to avoid family conflicts between a surviving stepparent and his or her stepchildren.
Creating estate planning documents early
When people wait until they are older to create their estate plans or to make changes to them, their children are likelier to suspect that their parents might have been unduly influenced by their stepparents to make changes to wills, trusts, or deeds. It is a good idea to create an estate plan earlier and to keep children informed about any changes and the reasons for them. When adult children understand why their parent has made the decisions, they are less likely to challenge the estate plan after their parent passes away. While parents might not want to talk about their decisions, open communication can help to avoid potential conflicts.
Involving stepchildren in decisions after death
One issue that sometimes happens after a spouse dies occurs when a stepparent controls all of the decisions. Stepchildren might be upset when they have no say in where their deceased parent will be buried or how the remains will be handled. Parents can help to prevent some of these problems by clearly communicating how they want their funerals to be handled and determine whether they want to be buried or cremated. When these types of plans have not been made in advance, stepparents should try to put aside any differences and involve their stepchildren in the planning process.
People who have remarried might want to work with an experienced estate planning lawyer to create or update their estate plans. An attorney might also help clients to think about any issues that might arise and address them so that they will be less likely to devolve into family conflicts.