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Blended families can encounter challenging estate administration

The definition of family has changed dramatically in recent decades. Many Ontario families have stepparents, stepchildren and half-siblings. When it comes to providing for them after death, residents often want to make sure that everyone receives their fair share. Without careful planning, blended families can easily encounter challenges when it comes to estate administration.

To begin efforts to avoid this eventuality, Ontario residents need to make sure that they answer the right questions as they consider estate planning. For example, one of the first issues is to determine who will receive what part of an estate. Next, how will each heir or beneficiary receive his or her share? In some cases, creating a trust may be better in order to control how and when an inheritance is received.

Other family members may be able to handle an outright inheritance. Then there is the question of the surviving stepparent. As the spouse making the estate plan, he or she more than likely wants to make sure that the other spouse receives what he or she needs in order to live afterward. This may mean allowing the surviving spouse use of assets during life, which will then go to other heirs or beneficiaries after that spouse's death.

When making these types of decisions, the person creating the estate plan needs to keep in mind that surviving loved ones will be going through estate administration as they grieve. Most people would want to make the arrangements fair for everyone involved, and getting to this point often requires the assistance of a lawyer who can review the family's situation and propose options that could work. Once a plan is in place, everyone can have peace of mind that the process will go as smoothly as possible.

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