Blended Families; What to do with your Will?

7-June-2019 Contested Wills By admin

A “blended family” is a family where one or both of the parties to the relationship have children from a prior marriage or relationship.

Unlike a Will for a family in which the children are children of both parties, in a blended family, one spouse leaving all the assets to the other spouse after their passing may mean that the surviving spouse can change their will to exclude the children of the predeceased spouse at a later time.

There are a number of estate planning tools or considerations you could implement to protect your children from a prior relationship, some of these include:

  • To enter into a Deed to Make Mutual Wills. This is an Agreement to make Wills that, once made, cannot be changed without the written consent of both parties. That is, if one spouse predeceases the other, the surviving spouse cannot change their will to disinherit the predeceased spouse’s children.

Mutual Wills also help with the issue of jointly held property, which is often forgotten or not taken into consideration when preparing a standard will.

  • Creating a Testamentary Trust which divides your estate equally among all named beneficiaries of the trust. This can enable your surviving spouse to continue to live comfortably, but also ensures your children receive an inheritance.
  • Severing your jointly held property. If you hold real estate as a “Joint Tenant” with your spouse, then upon the passing of one spouse, the surviving spouse automatically becomes entitled to the whole of the property, meaning that the predeceased spouse’s share completely bypasses their estate. Severing a joint tenancy converts the ownership of the property to “Tenants in Common” allowing you to leave your half share to your named beneficiaries.

At Streeterlaw, we focus on meeting with you in person and taking your instructions as to the specific details of your family, and your wishes going forward. No two families are the same, and accordingly, we aim to tailor an estate plan which is suitable for you and your family and takes into consideration the complex laws relating to estates, ensuring your loved ones are taken care of after you are gone.

If you have any concerns about protecting your blended family, please call us on 02 8197 0105 to arrange a conference with one of our experienced estate lawyers.

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