When Maryland residents marry later in life or marry for a second time, it is not unusual for children from previous relationships to be part of the new relationship. Blended families are seemingly the norm these days, and many people have taken on the role of stepparent. The relationships between the stepparent and the stepchildren differ from family to family, and those dynamics may play a part when parents consider estate planning.
Making these plans as a parent can be difficult even when not in a blended family. In some cases, children may feel entitled to a certain asset or a certain amount of assets, and if multiple children are involved, it is not uncommon for some competitiveness to creep in, as far as what the children want from the estate. The situation could be even more touchy if biological children feel that they have a right to more than the stepchildren.
Navigating this process is a personal and unique experience, and only those directly involved know what is best for their family. However, it may be wise to consider the following helpful tips:
- Make sure that everyone understands the decisions and that wishes are clear.
- Consider using a trust to protect assets as well as to have greater control over who gets what and when they get it.
- If using a trust, appoint the right trustee or successor trustee to ensure that the person will act in a fair manner toward the beneficiaries, whether they are biological children or stepchildren.
- Try to be fair and consider the needs of both biological children and stepchildren when determining the division of assets.
It is not easy — and is sometimes impossible — to make everyone happy when estate planning. However, trying to be as fair as possible and taking the time to discuss the plans and decisions with family members could better ensure that surviving loved ones do not fight over a remaining Maryland estate. Various planning tools could help interested parties create their plans as they see fit.