There are certain cases where individuals may not follow the usual division of an estate. Those parties who are part of blended families, in particular, may embark upon unequal division of their estates.
Parents of blended families who are estate holders have a unique position and should handle it with care. Here are a few important facts about a parental estate in a blended family.
There are studies that show that the chances of unequal estate distribution increase when the estate holder has a blended family. In fact, the percentage of unequal distributions amongst blended families increased by nearly 20 percent over a 15-year period. Though such shifts may happen for a number of different reasons, the growth in the trend causes some concerns for family members who may find themselves in this position.
In general, conflict may arise where beneficiaries do not agree with the distribution of an estate. Particularly in blended families, biological children may feel slighted by the distribution of a parent’s estate, especially if they do not agree with the split of assets between their stepparents and stepsiblings. This may cause great strain within the family, both while a parent is alive and after he or she is gone.
There are a few steps parents can take to ensure the proper distribution of their estate amongst their blended family. For someone who has adult children, one of the best ways to prevent conflict later is to share the will and estate plan while still alive and well, and to address any concerns now. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can also help to designate specific assets and finances for beneficiaries up front. Reviewing the estate plan annually, or at least every few years, can help to make sure that it is up to date and in alignment with the individual’s wishes.