“Love is lovelier, the second time around…” So says the beautiful old song. But the joy of finding love again and creating another family can quickly fade when the realities & pressures of the varying relationships are revealed. Multiple relationships equals multiple potential points of failure. Blended families can face complex estate-planning challenges, and issues can arise between spouses or between children and their spouses.
Over 70 percent of remarriages where children are involved result in divorce after less than six years. Add death and grief to the equation, and you can understand why challenges to deceased estates occur.
Nearly five percent of Australian families are blended families. This is a significant and increasing demographic trend: a third of marriages in Australia involve one partner who has been divorced.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics categorises a blended family as one that has more than one child, at least one of which is a stepchild. As the population that is eligible to challenge a deceased estate increases, the need for careful Wills and estate planning in Adelaide increases as well.
In the traditional family model, when one parent dies they generally leave most or all of their estate to their surviving spouse. Generally this is well-accepted, because the surviving spouse is also a parent to all of the children. The kids are confident that they will eventually receive their share upon the death of the other parent.
But the situation is different when one or both of the couple have children from a prior relationship. What happens if their step-parent inherits everything from their parent? Can they afford to assume that the step-parent will provide for them adequately in their Will? Probably not. Even if they trust and love the step-parent, the step-children have already seen that remarriages can and do occur. So they know that a further remarriage of the step-parent will automatically revoke their Will, and they probably know that in most Australian states, step-children can only be “eligible persons” to make a claim for increased provision if they can establish they were wholly or partly dependent on the deceased and were a member of the deceased’s household.
So what are the step-children to do? Stay quiet and hope for the best in the years to come, relying upon the goodwill of someone who is not related to them and has no legal compulsion to remember them in their Will?
Sadly, fear and feelings of discrimination or entitlement all too often erupt, fuelling a challenge to a deceased estate. Hence the strong and increasing need for blended families to take specialist legal advice about their estate planning to minimise the complications of their death or incapacity.
Wills and Testamentary Trusts Lawyers in Adelaide
Be careful. Consult a lawyer specialising in estate planning to reduce the risk of bequeathing a legacy of lengthy legal battles after your death. Contact Genders & Partners in Adelaide today for your free telephone consultation.
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