Pennsylvania Estate Planning for a Blended Family

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By Lisa Marie Vari on Google+

We see “blended families” all over the media-from the entire gang of the classic sitcom “Full House,” to the Kardashians, and even Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie-blended families are becoming more and more common. In a “blended family,” there are children from a prior relationship living with a married couple, and sometimes with children of that couple as well. Although this situation can be very beneficial for the family and can create a positive and nurturing family environment, this type of family structure poses a challenge for estate attorneys. How does a Pennsylvania estate attorney draft a Will for a blended family? What types of conflicts or challenges arise in this situation? These are questions that our Pittsburgh estate attorneys will address in today’s blog.

Typically, in the estate planning process, an attorney can represent both a husband and wife jointly, as long as they consent to this joint representation, no actual conflicts exist between the spouses, and the parties understand that there is no confidentiality regarding communications between either party separately with the attorney or both parties and their attorney. However, when dealing with a blended family, the joint representation of a couple may present potential conflicts.

For example, if each spouse has children from a previous marriage, they may want these children to be the primary beneficiaries under their own Will. In that situation, having an attorney jointly represent both parties may be difficult because the parties have disparate interests in relation to their beneficiary designations. Therefore, an attorney who would previously have represented both parties for their Will-drafting needs may want to advise the spouses to seek separate legal counsel.

The best way to avoid conflict in these situations is to get everything in writing, and to not wait years and years before everything is put in writing in an estate plan. Seek the advice of a Pennsylvania estate attorney so that these issues do not arise in your blended family later in life. Additionally, a Pennsylvania estate attorney may advise you to include a “no-contest” clause in your Will so that when your Will is executed and finalized, it cannot be continually challenged by additional family members claiming a share of your estate.

To obtain more information on drafting a Will, or if you have any questions about estate law in Pennsylvania, contact our Western Pennsylvania Estate Attorneys today.