At the death of a spouse, the Blended Family can be a tinder box where a spark of emotions can ignite into an inferno of conflict.
Individuals typically view Estate Planning as being important, but feel that it can wait. This is particularly true in first-time marriages because there exists a natural hierarchy in the succession of authority and inheritors. That is, people expect that a spouse will make financial and medical decisions for their incapacitated spouse, and that a surviving spouse will receive their deceased spouse's estate, followed by the couple's children.
BUT . . . a Blended Family should have an estate plan in place sooner rather than later! WHY? Because in a Blended Family, this natural succession of authority and inheritors is disrupted and can be unclear, particularly when adult children are involved. Who should be in charge if you become incompetent - your new spouse or your adult children? And if you should die, who gets your assets and which assets do they get?
In a Blended Family it is necessary to identify and place in writing your new succession of authority and inheritors to prevent your intentions from being challenged and/or usurped in critical situations.
Blended Families have issues and concerns that don't exist in first marriages. These unique Blended Family issues can cause a person a great deal of anxiety because he or she perceives the resolution of the issues to require some level of confrontation with his or her spouse, children or step-children. This anxiety can result in an estate plan that is never started, never completed, or fails to deal all the issues that need to be addressed. It is important to understand that this anxiety is natural and with the proper advice and counsel, a solution can be reached that can reduce the anxiety and help to leave a legacy of good relationships amongst family members.