Blended Families

For blended families, careful consideration and the right legal advice will help protect the allocation of your legacy

In today’s world, it is common for a person to have a partner from a second or subsequent relationship, as well as children from the earlier relationship(s). The definition of what constitutes a traditional family has shifted over the years, which has resulted in an emphasis on the importance of comprehensive Estate Planning. It is now commonplace for children to become step-children and for two families to merge, due to a second marriage or new relationship.

There are a growing amount of Will contests occurring in Australian blended families. The reason behind this is that unfortunately when it comes to Wills, someone is always going to feel left out. Family members who feel like they have been misrepresented are increasingly being encouraged to contest Wills, and gain more than what was left for them. It is crucial that if you are part of a blended family, you have considered all the factors that will help prevent any family Will disputes or contests over your legacy.

If a person fails to draft a Will at all, then legislation determines how that persons’ assets will be distributed. Of particular importance for blended families is that the Intestacy Law contains very little provision for step-children (even if they are dependants) to inherit from an Estate. If you want the step-children under your care to be well provided for, drafting a valid Estate Plan is essential.

On the other hand, if you have provided any form of financial support for step-children in the past then you may have a legal obligation to continue to financially provide for them, even if you’re thinking otherwise. This is where specialist advice becomes essential in drafting a Will that provides for the beneficiaries you nominate, without the risk of being overruled in a Will contest.
When drafting or adapting an Estate Plan, there are many options available to those in blended families. These are some of the basic options you will need to consider:

  • You could hold your Estate in a trust for the benefit of your partner and any children you have with that partner, with the Estate later being dispersed to all your children upon your partner’s passing.
  • Part of your Estate could be held in a trust for your children from a previous marriage with the other part being held in a trust for your current partner and any children you have had with them.
  • Your Estate could be divided between your current partner, the children from your prior marriage, and your step-children.
  • You could choose to divide your Estate between the children of your prior marriage and your current partner.
  • The children of your prior marriage and your current marriage, and the children of your current partner could all receive your Estate.
  • Your Estate could go entirely to your partner, with no provision for your children, or alternately your Estate could all go to your children with no provision for your partner.

For blended families, the possibilities are numerous, as each family dynamic is different from the next. With active planning, an understanding of your options and legal advice from a trained specialist, you will be able to provide for all of your loved ones as you desire. This will significantly reduce the chance of a Will contest arising within your family.

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