Problems that arise in estate planning with blended families

Disputes over estate plans may be more likely to happen among blended families in Nevada than in families in which there are not stepchild and stepparent relationships. These disputes may be more common in families with stepmothers, in part because women are more likely to outlive men. One survey found that only about one in five adult children reported feeling close to their stepmothers. There are several common reasons that a dispute over an estate involving a stepmother might happen.

Short marriages are one situation in which children and a stepparent may end up in a dispute. This becomes particularly likely if there appear to have been changes to documents in the final days of the parent’s life, especially if dementia was involved. Children might feel that the stepparent exerted undue influence in getting estate planning documents changed. Stepchildren may also become resentful if they find a stepmother favored her biological children over them. This may only be apparent in records uncovered after a parent’s death that show a pattern of the stepmother helping her biological children financially but not stepchildren.

Other types of disputes might arise immediately after a parent’s death. These could include throwing out valuable heirlooms or fighting about what happens to the person’s body. Estate planning documents may even go missing.

While a person cannot be entirely certain of creating an estate plan that prevents conflict, there are certain ways to reduce its likelihood. Individuals should update their estate plan regularly to avoid obvious errors like having an ex-spouse as a beneficiary on a retirement account. If possible, people should discuss the estate plan with family members so that they know what to expect and the reasoning behind it. An individual might use a family trust or other types of trusts and appoint professional trustees to manage the assets, thereby reducing conflict among heirs.

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