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Estate Planning in a Blended Family

02-05-2022    |    Resource   |   Graeme Hockley

With the growing number of separations, divorces and remarriages in Australia, there is also an increase in the number of ‘blended families’ in which one or both partners in a marriage have a child/children from a previous relationship.

Unfortunately, there are many complexities with estate planning in a blended family. 

Inheritance law prioritises the deceased’s spouse followed by their biological children so when step-children, and in some cases fractured relationships or re-marriages, come into the picture, it becomes even more important to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of and your wishes respected when you pass away!

 

Some Issues to Consider

Estate planning in a blended family has to consider family dynamics and potential changes to relationships, as well as ensuring that the current spouse, biological children and step-children are taken care of in a manner that is fair and minimises the potential for future disputes.    

The easiest way to ensure you get it right is to speak with an experienced Wills and Estates lawyer who has worked with blended families before and understands the issues.  A traditional Will or DIY Will Kit won’t suffice in these situations.

You may also want to consider establishing and using a Trust to ensure that your assets are passed on to the beneficiaries you choose.  For example, a Trust can provide assets for your spouse during his/her lifetime, with any remaining assets being handed down to your children when your spouse passes away.  This will also ensure that if your spouse re-marries, your children do not miss out on their inheritance!

If you are concerned that your biological children may miss out on an inheritance if they have to wait for your spouse to pass away, you may also want to consider giving them an immediate gift of assets upon your death.  This effectively ensures that they receive an inheritance regardless of whether your spouse includes them in their Will down the track.

Finally, you may also want to consider appointing an Executor of your Estate who is not a family member.  Having an independent or impartial person that you trust to act as the Executor of your Will can remove the potential for family dynamics to cause problems and prevent future disputes.

 

For further information

For more information on estate planning in blended families, or advice on how to protect your beneficiaries and minimise potential claims against your estate, contact the Wills and Estates team at Lamrocks Solicitors on 02 4731 5688.

 

 

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