Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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Estate planning complications in blended families

Blended families may face some complicated emotional and legal issues when it comes to estate planning. For example, some adult children in Louisiana might wonder what may happen if a parent decides to leave an entire estate to a stepparent and whether they would be able to inherit any assets.

If a person dies without a will, state law determines how the person's assets are divided. However, in general, a person who does have a will can choose what happens to the assets. This could include leaving everything to a stepparent, who would then be permitted to pass the inheritance on to a charity, other family members or anyone else. Children who are concerned about a parent's plans for assets may want to try to discuss the issue with the parent although it can be a difficult conversation. It is important for the children to avoid framing the conversation as though they only care what happens to the money or do not care what happens to the stepparent in the event of the other parent's death.

One option might be an irrevocable trust. This could provide an income for the stepparent but allow children to get assets as well. Another option might be creating an education trust fund that would pay for the education of the adult children or their children.

In some cases, depending on how much family conflict there has been, the stepparent or children might challenge a will. Another potential point of conflict is who is chosen to make medical and financial decisions for the person in case of becoming incapacitated. In some families, these kinds of conflicts might be avoided by clear communication about the intent and content of the estate plan. However, a person may want to discuss concerns about problems such as these and how to avoid them with an attorney.

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Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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