Children’s literature often includes stories involving strained relationships between children and stepmothers. Sadly that can be the reality for many people today as remarriages after a divorce or even after a prior widowing experience are far from uncommon. While certainly many stepfamilies create strong and positive bonds, the fact remains that special care should be taken when making estate plans for a remarriage.
As MarketWatch explains, the potential for a dispute between a woman and her stepchildren to arise after her husband – their father – dies is high. One factor that makes this so is the sheer reality that women statistically outlive men. This gives a greater chance that the man will die first, leaving his children to deal with their stepmother once he is gone versus the other way around. How long the couple was married and whether or not the wife had children of her own prior to that marriage may well play into how peacefully an estate may be settled between the widow and the man’s children.
It is important to note that assets may not be the only area of dispute among these parties. Equally important to outline in an estate plan are any wishes for services, burial, cremation or other related matters.
If you would like to learn more about how you might seek guideance in situations in which family members or even step-family members end up at odds over a person’s estate, please feel free to visit the post-death conflict page of our Washington State estate planning website.