Estate Planning for Blended Families

Estate planning can be more complicated for blended families than for traditional families. Entering into a new marriage when one or both new spouses have children from a previous relationship poses its own unique challenges, and it is important to consider what will happen if either of you pass away. An estate planning attorney can help you make important decisions about what will happen to your estate after each of you pass and ensure that your loved ones are protected.

In Connecticut, when a spouse dies, the surviving spouse is entitled to receive up to one-third of the deceased spouse’s estate, regardless of any estate plan in place. The remainder of the estate will be distributed according to Connecticut’s intestacy laws if there is no will, and, although they may include biological and legally adopted children, they do not include stepchildren.

Depending on the goals each individual blended family may have, these intestacy laws may not accomplish the goals that some parents want to achieve with their estate planning. Naming your spouse to inherit all your assets at the time of your death may not be the wisest estate planning technique. For example,

  • You and your spouse get married, and each of you brings to your new family two children from prior marriages. Your children are Abigail and Anthony, and your spouse’s children are Ben and Brooke.
  • You each execute wills, directing all of your assets to be inherited by each other (which is common for traditional families).
  • You predecease your spouse, and according to your will, your spouse inherits everything.
  • Many decades later, your widowed spouse decides to re-execute her or her will, and decides for some reason to disinherit your children, leaving all his or her assets at the time of his or her death to his or her own children, Ben and Brooke.

While this may seem unfair and unfortunate, your spouse would be within his or her legal right to execute his or her will this way. Your children, Abigail and Anthony, would not have any legal right to any of the estate, even though you left your assets to your spouse at the time of your death with the intention that your spouse would equitably distribute the assets to all four children.

It is clear that estate planning for blended families first and foremost requires good communication. Each spouse’s goals for their own children must be clearly expressed to one another. However, regardless of how well your spouse understands your intentions now, it would be wise to put estate planning in place that would accomplish your goals without having to rely on your spouse’s estate planning after you are deceased.

Do you have questions?

Count on your experienced team at Ericson, Scalise & Mangan, PC to provide you with sound guidance for your Estate Planning, Elder Law, Real Estate, Probate, Trust & Estate Administration, and other legal needs. For assistance, contact us today at (860) 229-0369, or email us at

open hands holding paper cutout fo family of four