Estate disputes are not uncommon, particularly amongst blended families. Studies have found that families composed of a step parent and children from a previous marriage are more likely to face a dispute than a traditional, nuclear family.
Even those who wish to provide unequal bequests can take proactive steps to avoid a potential dispute.
Three tips that can help better ensure a smooth transfer of an estate in these situations include:
- Put together a prenup. Putting together a prenuptial agreement prior to entering a second marriage is beneficial in a number of ways. For one, the process will help to gather an accounting of premarital assets prior to entering into a second marriage. It can also offer a level of protection of assets in the event of a death.
- Review your estate plan. Major life events, including a second marriage, should trigger a review of an existing estate plan. Make sure the plan meets your needs and adjust bequests as needed.
- Discuss your plan. The discussion may not be easy, but clearly communicating wishes can reduce the odds of a dispute. Disputes are often fueled by conflicting views on the creator's wishes. Providing a clear explanation of your wishes can put out the flames of a dispute before they ignite in the first place.
It is often wise for those attempting to navigate this process to seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced in estate planning matters can help you put together an intentional and clear estate plan that meets your wishes while also avoiding any unnecessary risks that could trigger a dispute.