When it comes to wills and estates, it is common for people to leave their assets to a spouse, followed by their children. This traditional structure of passing wealth to children can become complicated in a blended family. While the process of writing and administering a will are similar regardless of family structure, more complex family structures can lead to additional challenges. In these cases, clear consideration and communication are important for seamless estate administration in Ontario.
One of the most important things to consider is the custody of minor children, if any exist, should their parent or parents pass away. Depending on the custody arrangement, this may need to be worked out with the child's other legal parent rather than the stepparent. Other people, such as biological grandparents, may also have legal rights, should both parents become unable to care for a child. Legal advice and clear communication with all legal parents, grandparents and guardians is important to develop a seamless plan.
Another consideration is to update a will after second marriages to account for any additional children. It may be beneficial to discuss how assets may be divided with the adult children from a previous marriage, or the co-parent if the children are still minors, so there are less surprises when the time comes for the will to be administered.
If you have further questions about how best to provide direction within a will regarding blended families, it's best to consult with an experienced estates lawyer. He or she will be able to provide you with a better assessment of your assets, and any legal rights surviving family members may possess.