Friday, October 7, 2016
Today, about 55% of Americans have no estate-planning documents in place. Accordingly, default rules will come into play in the absence of these documents, which may provide primary benefits to the surviving spouse. Unfortunately, the relationship between the surviving spouse and the stepchildren can be fraught with conflict. Fortunately, proper estate planning in these scenarios can help to avoid confusion and hurt. Emotional ties do not always sever during a divorce, so it is important to name who is family in your estate-planning documents. Similarly, it will be beneficial to name those who are no longer considered family in order to avoid inheritances passing to unintended beneficiaries. So, keep your intended goals in mind when preparing your estate-planning documents.
See Amy Ziettlow & Naomi Cahn, Step-Families and Estate Planning, Family Studies, October 6, 2016.