NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Estate planning with one family is hard enough. For families with a mix of biological children and stepchildren, first spouses and second spouses, making out an equitable will can seem impossible. No one wants to leave their heirs with a mess to sort out or fight over. Here's a look at the top six things to remember when you're estate planning for a blended family.
1. Keep in mind the length of time your family has been together
If you and your second spouse married when your children were still young, or if you had your own children together, your family is really one big family, says Dan Mielnicki, an estate and trust attorney with Florida-based Berger Singerman.
"If you think of all of your family's kids as 'our' kids, then your will should reflect that," Mielnicki says. "In these situations, you truly have a blended family, and you should proceed with your will as if all your children were your biological children and your second spouse is your first spouse."
If, however, your children were adults or teenagers when you remarried, the dynamics will be completely different. You will need to make separate provisions for your biological children and stepchildren.
"If the family hasn't been together that long, it's unfair to think that everyone should be treated the same," says Jeff Fishman, founder and managing member of JSF Financial, a concierge wealth management firm in Los Angeles. "How do you expect someone with three kids in their 30s to treat their new spouse's daughter the same as their own children?"