More and more families have stepchildren as the result of second and third marriages, which has sparked an increase in contested wills around the country.
Tension can rise when a family member who holds a family together passes away, often a parent who has children with different spouses. From an estate planning standpoint, perhaps the wisest course is to distribute assets separately. That way, stepchildren are not financially intertwined with each other.
One tool is to use a prenuptial agreement in conjunction with a will that spells out who gets what when a spouse dies. You can supplement a trust providing cash over time with life insurance that will pay children immediately upon your death.
If you have a family business, it may be tricky to simply leave it to a child or surviving spouse who has the most interest in running the company. If a lot of your wealth is related to the business, other family members may be resentful.
If you do, a life insurance policy can appease family members cut out of the family business. Of your estate plan could require the family member who gets your business to buy out the shares of other family members. You might also want to give away family heirloom items while you’re alive to avoid fights after you’ve passed away.