Blended families: Avoiding future conflict

Today, due to divorce, spousal death and remarriages, blended families have become the new normal.  Your new aging ”blended family” should consider specialized estate planning to avoid needless family drama and financial missteps.  All families have their own unique dynamic.  Combining families creates its own complex dynamic and can cause conflict.  The complications of aging only exacerbate the specific issues blended families face.

Avoiding conflict within blended families

Picture this… it’s a second (or even a third marriage) for Mom or Dad and they both have children from their previous relationships. One day, Dad gets rushed to the hospital and ends up needing to go to a nursing home because he needs rehabilitation. Unfortunately, Dad has never signed an Advance Directive for Healthcare or Financial Power of Attorney. There is no legal decision maker in place. Dad’s kids want him to avoid the nursing home and be cared for at home.  Dad’s wife, who is also aging, can’t provide care for  Dad. The wife’s children, advocating for their mom, may argue that the husband should go to a nursing home. Potential for a standoff will likely follow, which adds stress to an already difficult situation.  Review some helpful tips for blended families from AARP here .

In a perfect world the whole family would agree on a plan for care, but in our law practice we have seen that is rarely the case. In the above situation, if documents had been in place with clear preferences and decision-makers, the decision would have been much smoother for the family. Not having these documents in place or being able to agree to a care plan may leave families in a situation where someone has to pursue guardianship (if Dad lacks capacity to make his own choices and participate in his care).

Paying for long-term requires requires blended families to cooperate

Blended families will also need to work together if they are pursuing benefits to help pay for long-term care for their aging parents. The rules for obtaining VA benefits may depend on marital status as well as household income. Conversely, nursing home Medicaid considers the applicants income only but it examines household assets. It can be very difficult to apply for and receive public benefits if everyone isn’t willing to play ball together.  Imagine trying to determine household income if squabbling adult ‘kids’ aren’t willing to share that information with each other.

Protecting blended families takes planning

Take control over your care and safeguard your blended family by executing your essential estate planning documents. For more information on how you can protect yourself and your loved ones in a blended family, call Hurley Elder Care Law at 404-843-0121 or visit our website here.

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