Wills & Estates, February 28, 2024 - by Lypkie Henderson

Estate Planning for Blended Families: Ensuring Fairness and Harmony

According to the 2021 Canadian census, almost 12% of the nation’s families are stepfamilies – “blended families.” Those in in blended families ought to think ahead and confront challenging issues, such as estate planning. Edmonton families should establish clear plans early on to avoid serious difficulties that can occur when a parent or step-parent passes without a will.

Working with an estate planning lawyer is an important part of this process because estate law can be complicated for blended families. Beyond thorny legal issues, this process can also be emotionally difficult. How can you proceed through this important work while ensuring fairness to all parties? Here are some tips.

Be Ready to Communicate Clearly

Clear, open, and honest communication is critical for spouses when having conversations about estates planning in a blended family. Without frank discussions, there is the chance that a family member might feel “left out” or treated unfairly. Flexibility and a willingness to work towards compromise, even though challenging, are essential at this stage. Working with a trusted legal professional can provide an important outside perspective.

Establish Goals and Explore Ways to Satisfy All Parties

Each spouse should be clear and upfront about their goals in the planning process. This collaborative approach is especially important in blended families with multiple children from separate marriages. Spouses should be upfront about their desires early on while at the same time be willing to find compromises that satisfy different circumstances.

Understand Your Options for Estate Planning

Blended families have several options for the wills they create for each spouse. For example, “mirror wills” are common in blended families with simpler assets and fewer competing goals. Spousal trusts are also an option to explore. In each case, the value of the estate and the family’s future are important elements to consider. Don’t overlook the value of legal experience in this space. There is no “one size fits all” approach to blended families; every situation is different and requires a tailored approach from a professional.

Explore Options for Trusted Legal Support

An estate planning lawyer is a crucial advisor to have on your side when planning for the future of your blended family.  Simple wills may not be effective in achieving the outcome you want—and going without a will is not a wise choice. At Lypkie Henderson, we have many years of proven estate planning experience. Working with your family, we can find a fair, equitable arrangement that helps reduce the chance of future disputes.

For more information about blended family estate planning in Edmonton, please contact our offices today.

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