A blended family is a couple who may or may not have children together but they do have children from a previous relationship. The more traditional approach to estate planning typically doesn’t work for a blended family because there’s additional considerations that aren’t accounted for. For most couples, their major assets such as their property or bank accounts are owned jointly. What this means is that when one of them passes away, there’s a right to survivorship to the surviving partner and that asset will pass automatically to them, regardless of what the will says.
The risk of not having a good plan in place is that your children may not receive anything from your estate, either at the time of your death or when your partner passes away. From this, children are put in a position that in order to ensure they receive something, they have to challenge your estate and that can be a very expensive and emotionally difficult process for them to go through.
Other ways of estate planning, that are not using a Will, include using a life insurance policy and naming your children as the beneficiary of it, or sharing that policy with your spouse. Another example would be setting up tax-free savings accounts, which are a good way to leave gifts to children or divide it between your children and spouse to ensure that everyone is accounted for in your estate plan.
For a blended family, we always recommend that when you’re estate planning and considering what you wish to do, that you get legal advice so that you can make informed decisions and understand how things will work if something happens to you. Ultimately, the job of an estate planner is to help couples with a blended family to make sure that their plan in place takes care of their family.