In my husband Ken’ experience, his dad died when he and his sister were already living independently. Ken’s mom remarried a widower 1 ½ years later and her new husband, Tom, had 3 independent children.
Tom moved in with Ken’s mom into her home, so his children lost their family home and they never felt her house was home. Holidays became very strained when all the adult children were together and they had to spend time with stepsiblings, practicing new traditions, when all they really wanted was to spend time with their biological family and follow long established family traditions. Eventually, Tom’s children quit coming for holidays and seldom came ‘home’.
When it came to assets, Ken’s mom and Tom were specific with items in their wills, but even so, when Tom died there was misunderstanding and bitterness about a few assets he had acquired after he married Ken’s mom.
In my case, my uncle was a widower and remarried a widow when he was in his early 80’s. His girlfriend was dependent on her late husband’s pension. The moment she remarried, she would lose that income. She was younger than my uncle so he knew it was probable she would outlive him. I can remember him sharing how he couldn’t ask her to marry him unless he made sure she would be taken care of financially after his death, but that meant his children and grandchildren would lose some of their inheritance. He consulted his adult children about that before he would even propose.
Make changes slowly. It’s ok early in the relationship to celebrate holidays as separate families with your own traditions. Over time you may find you can bring families together and even creatively observe each family’s traditions.
Whether a parent remarries when children are still in the home, or if they are adults, issues of traditions and inheritance need to be addressed. If the children are old enough, bring them into the discussions. Emotions may be less heightened if this is done before marriage.
In his book, The Smart Stepfamily, Ron Deal has a brilliant section he co-authored with a financial expert that covers many aspects of assets and inheritance. Our advice is that you consult a Certified Financial Planner, who specialises in families, to be sure you have considered all the aspects of inheritance and money matters – preferably before marriage.