For those who have been married more than once, it may be difficult to determine who should get what from their estate. However, there are some good guidelines that can make it easier to estate plan for those who have multiple spouses and a blended family.
Consider how long the family has been together. If the family has been together for many years, it may be reasonable to consider the entire family one big family regardless of who the biological mother or father of the children present may have been. In a case such as this one, there is no need to differentiate between biological children and stepchildren. However, it is possible to create a provision in a will or trust that specifically provides for stepchildren or a second spouse upon an individual's passing.
Whenever an individual puts together a will or trust, it is important to communicate with everyone prior to finishing the document. This may reduce hard feelings, legal challenges and other drama that may occur if one child gets less than another or if one child feels that he or she got less because he or she was a stepchild. If getting everyone together is not possible, it may be easier to simply divide assets equally.
Estate planning may be a complex process with a lot of issues to consider before finalizing such a plan. Typically, it is best to divide assets equally without regard for taxes or other secondary issues. However, an estate planning attorney may be helpful when creating a will or trust. An attorney may be able to create documents that adhere to the law while decreasing the odds that they are going to be subject to a legal challenge either during or outside of the probate process.
Source: The Street, "6 Things to Consider When Estate planning for Your Second Family", Kathryn Tuggle, August 07, 2014