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What Is Fair in Blended Families?

How to fairly divide an estate between multiple children, can be a difficult question to answer. It can get even more difficult, when the family is not a traditional one.

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Consider for example, a man who has two homes and two daughters from a previous relationship getting remarried. This man decides to create a trust that leaves one of his homes to his two daughters, since that is the house in which they grew up in. The other home will go to his new wife.

That seems like an equitable solution.

However, the man and his new wife, then had a son and they also purchased a third home.

Now, the question becomes how do they make sure that all of the man's children are treated equally?

If any inheritance the new wife receives will eventually go to her son and he also receives a portion of his father's estate, then he will receive a larger inheritance than his step-sisters.

How to resolve this situation was the subject of a recent letter to Market Watch as reported in "How do I split my estate between my two stepdaughters and biological son?"

There is no single perfect solution to this situation that will work in all cases.

It depends on how much the woman brought into the marriage and how old her step-daughters were at the time.

What will work for one family, will not work for another.

If the women brought few assets into the marriage, then the fair thing to do might be to give her a life estate in the property, but then divide that property up equally between all three children when she passes away.

If you have a blended family, then visit an estate planning attorney to learn about the options to deal with this type of situation for your family.

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