“Serving Families and Individuals throughout Adelaide South Australia and surrounding areas”
Times have changed. In the new millennium, whether due to the death of a spouse or through divorce, blended families now outnumber traditional ‘nuclear’ families. A blended family contains children from prior relationships. We might fondly recall the ‘Brady Bunch’, but the news is more likely to reflect stories about dysfunctional blended families like Rinehart/Hancock whenever money and inheritance is involved.
And the number of blended families is likely to grow, based on current statistics and trends.
Many blended families face unique social, psychological and economic challenges. As a result, over 60% of second marriages end in divorce. Fortunately, there are numerous organisations and support groups dedicated to helping blended families with these challenges.
If you already had an estate plan created when you were “previously” married, then we can help bring it up-to-date to reflect your new situation following your marriage. Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to the critical estate planning challenges confronting blended families. These challenges include disinheriting your ex-spouse and protecting your biological children.
Without proper legal planning, your ex-spouse (as surviving parent/guardian) might be appointed by the tribunal or court to manage the inheritance you leave to your minor children. To make matters worse, what if your children later predecease your ex-spouse, and are single and childless at that time? Who would inherit your assets then? That is right … it could be your ex-spouse, as the next-of-kin of your children.
Chances are you made a few solemn promises to your new spouse on your wedding day. Among them were promises to be there through thick and thin, personally and financially. In the absence of a Binding Financial Agreement (premarital or prenuptial agreement) to maintain separate assets, most spouses in blended families tend to blend their wealth. For example, they title their respective assets in the names of both spouses and also designate one another as the primary beneficiary of their respective superannuation and life insurance policies.
Warning: If you pass away before your new spouse, then you might forever disinherit your own biological children from your share of such blended wealth! Thereafter, upon the death of your new spouse, your assets may be inherited by your stepchildren, or even by your new spouse’s next spouse and their children. Yes, things can get complicated – and fast!
Regardless of whether children are reared in a traditional nuclear family or in a blended family, great care should be taken to protect any inheritance both for them and from them. For starters, wealth representing a lifetime of your hard work and thrift can be squandered in very short order. In addition to squandering, an inheritance can quickly vanish through divorces, lawsuits and bankruptcies.
Fortunately, with proper estate planning, you can both honour your vows to your new spouse and provide an inheritance that is protected for and even from your own children.