Blended Family Estate Planning: Managing Complicated Family Dynamics

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At least 13,000 blended families are formed every day in the United States.

It is generally expected for family members to get on well. This is not the reality in most blended families. It usually takes time for the family members to get on well and connect as a family. This is because different personalities are coming together to form a family. There is usually a clash of personalities and conflicts of interests.

This gets worse when one of the spouses dies and there are disputes about their assets. The best way to safeguard such a family is to involve an estate planning lawyer. Involving estate planning lawyers can help you create a blended family estate plan. You can ensure that your estate planning is done considering your family dynamics.

This article will address the best estate planning options for blended families and ways to manage complicated family dynamics in a blended family.

Estate Planning for Blended Families


Estate planning for blended families is more complicated than just making a simple will.

There are so many challenges involved such as:

  • Spouses transfer their assets to their new partners when they remarry. They do this with the hope that their new partner will protect the interests of their children when they die. This might not be the case when they die.
  • Stepparents are under no obligation to provide for the children of their spouse. This might cause them to remove their stepchildren from the will of their spouse. This leaves the children with no assets from their deceased parents.

The best ways to manage estate planning in blended families include the following:

1. Appointing a trustee

You can ensure there are no complications with the distribution of the assets by setting up a trust. This way you can specify how your assets will be distributed by the appointed trustee.  Ensure to choose a trustee that you trust, is accountable, and is not biased. This way you can ensure such a trustee has no family ties with the other members of the family and will carry out your wishes.

2. Creating a mutual will

The whole essence of a mutual will is to ensure the children of the deceased get the assets of their parents instead of the new spouse. This prevents the surviving spouse from laying claim to the assets meant for the deceased’s children. The surviving spouse is mandated under the law to give the assets to the children of the deceased.

It must be stated clearly in the mutual will what assets go to who in the blended family.

3. Life Insurance

Setting up life insurance is a way to ensure estate planning in blended families. You have the option of making a life insurance policy with your spouse and step kids as beneficiaries. This can be an option if you do not have them as beneficiaries in your will. This way, you can effectively manage your assets with no one feeling cheated.

4. Setting up a living will through a power of attorney

You can write a living will stating how you want your assets divided when you get ill. This can be managed on your behalf by a ‘donee’ who is someone you appoint to make decisions on your behalf. This is because you may  be unable to make decisions due to sickness or other forms of incapacitation. A power of attorney appoints someone to handle financial, medical, and life decisions on your behalf when you cannot.

Managing a Blended family

Remarrying a spouse who already has children takes a lot of adjustments.  Complications can come from trying to make your blended family look like your first family. This might lead to frustration and lots of disappointments. There are better ways to reduce the complications and manage complicated family dynamics. They include the following:

1. Focus on solidifying and building the marriage first

The major reason there is a blended family is due to the marriage of the parents. The marriage must be solid enough to be able to parent the children. Once the marriage is strong enough, the parents can properly look after their children. This way, a healthy and growing blended family is created.

2. Embrace the differences

Having a blended family is a fusion of different families with various ideologies. Focusing on changing the ideologies of your new family members can complicate things. It is best to accept your differences and instead focus on finding ways to live harmoniously. You can do this by learning the basic things that make a blended family successful.

3. Be mindful of everyone’s development

Each member of the blended family is at a different stage of their life. This means they have different development needs. Some might adjust quickly to accepting the new family while it might take others a while. It is important to recognize the stage at which each member is and respect them. Do not try to rush them into adjusting to the family. Give them the time and space they need to acclimate to the new dynamics. This will reduce any form of complications.

4. Ensure there is room for growth

With time, each member of the blended family will adjust and grow to accept the new family. It is important to create and foster growth in the family. This is by choosing to have more family time and doing things to encourage closeness with one another.

5. Plan your expenses ad avoid legal disputes

The cost of financing the family increases in a blended family. This is because of the increase in the number of members. It is best to plan and be proactive with your finances. This ensures that your new family feels supported financially.

You must also ensure the children are not involved in any legal disputes. You can ensure this by involving your estate planning lawyer in your financial planning ahead of time.


Managing complicated family dynamics can be a lot of work. It is even more work when it involves a will and trust. A blended family can get broken due to disputes resulting from the last will of one of the spouses. In cases where there is no will involved, probate and estate administration would take care of the assets. This can get messy and complicate the lives of the blended family members. However, this can be avoided by planning your estate ahead with a lawyer before your death.