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Blended families: Complicated families need estate plans

Blended families, or those with step children, half brothers and sisters, stepmothers and stepfathers, bring two families together as one. The problem with blended families is that many people aren't related to one another. When it comes to estate planning, this can be an issue.

Although blended families outnumber the traditional families in the United States, they're still complicated when it comes to estate planning. Instead of having a natural flow of property from a father to son, for example, there could be a wife, ex-wife, son, stepson or others looking to benefit from a person's passing.

What can you do to make a good estate plan for a blended family?

You should consider directing assets only to those you choose instead of following the traditional rules of the state. Instead of leaving your assets to the next person "in line," you could create a will indicating that you want your home to go to your daughter, your car to go to your stepson or your other properties to go to your children from a previous marriage.

If you don't create an estate plan, you could end up running into problems, like having an ex-spouse obtain your retirement account or a biological child obtaining your home when you really wanted it to go to your stepchild.

One good thing you can do is to start working with estate planning advisers, attorneys and financial planners. They understand the differences blended families face compared to those who are in traditional families. They can help you create trusts for each child or beneficiary, create a structured will and create an ironclad estate plan that helps carry out your wishes after death.

A good estate plan protects your assets and your beneficiaries. Think about one early, so you can prepare everything without concern.

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