For a blended family, a simple will can be anything but simple. It can lead to unexpected outcomes, such children being disinherited by a stepparent.

Blended families need to take steps in their estate plan to protect the financial interests of children from a prior marriage.

What can happen if you don’t plan your estate

Let’s suppose you have children from a prior marriage. If you get married and have a cookie-cutter estate plan, your last will and testament may give all of your assets to your new spouse if you die. If you become incapacitated, your new spouse may become your agent under a power of attorney, giving them control over your finances.

Unfortunately, relationships between stepparents and stepchildren can become strained, especially after a death. Here are some examples of things that can happen:

  • A stepparent may show financial favoritism toward their children or to children born during the marriage.
  • A stepparent may disinherit your children in favor of their children.
  • A stepparent may not spend money as you would have wanted to spend it. For example, rather than helping your child pay for college, he or she may go on a world cruise.
  • Your spouse may remarry, and assets you would have wanted to go to your children could go instead to the new spouse.

Children from a prior marriage often worry about what will happen to them if their parent remarries. Careful estate planning can alleviate those worries by spelling out what will happen if you die or become incapacitated.