How blended families get blindsided

You owe it to your blended family to plan for the future.
You owe it to your blended family to plan for the future.

This article is sponsored by Access Law Group

The word ‘family’ invokes a myriad of different emotions in people: joy, heartbreak, anger, worry. Now, add the word ‘blended’ in front of it and you could have yourself an interesting cocktail.

Some blended families could give the Bradys a run for their money with how loving, caring, helpful and interdependent they are.

Some, however, are a little more complex – step-siblings and half-siblings who may not trust (or sometimes even know) each other, foster children, second or third marriages and all they bring with them.

Add into the mix the complex area of estate planning (who will end up with what when you pass away) and it is no wonder we have so many clients asking for assistance.

Good advice on planning your estate can lead to a more harmonious family life.

Good advice on planning your estate can lead to a more harmonious family life.

This naturally raises many issues, and many questions for people.

What happens to my spouse? I’m contributing more than my partner is to the house – how can we make this fair? How can I provide for my kids? Our children don’t get on with each other – how can I prevent a claim on my estate?

At Access Law the estate planning department are expert at advising clients in blended families and guarantee to find a solution to every situation – because every good team needs a game plan.

Many clients who are in blended families with their second or third spouse are often eager to ensure that the children of their first marriage are provided for fairly – while at the same time wanting to provide for their current partner.

Your spouse is often a very important factor in your estate plan for many reasons – wanting to provide for them and protect them financially, and leave them various benefits without the added burden or expectation of having to provide for your children as well as their own.

Consider these options for this tricky issue:

Life estates

Get the best advice around the trickier aspects of estate planning from a professional.

Get the best advice around the trickier aspects of estate planning from a professional.

If you own a property in just your name, but you and your spouse live in it, you might consider having a Will that includes a right to reside or a life Estate for your spouse.

You can then leave the property to your children after your spouse passes away – this is particularly effective when you wish to leave property for your children, and is a good way of ensuring you have provided for everyone.

Dealing with your superannuation and/or life insurance

Binding Death Benefit Nominations are often the best way of ensuring that what can be a potentially large sum of money passes in the most tax-effective way, or that it is dealt with in the way you intend.

Drafting wills with testamentary discretionary trusts

This is a tax effective way of preventing your family assets falling into the wrong hands should your children ever experience any family breakdown or financial hardship.

Severing joint tenancies of property

Severing joint tenancies of property or undertaking other transfers of property or assets to ensure they pass to your intended beneficiaries in accordance with your intentions;

Just as there are many and varied blended family situations (or future/potential blended family problems), there are many and varied ways to deal with them – whether that’s dealing with past relationships, navigating your current one, or preparing for the possibility of other ones in the future (whether that be yours or your children’s).

No matter the current state of your personal relationship, having an estate plan in place for your family and your relationship need not be a scary process.

Don’t be caught off-guard, always prepare for any situation. It is possible to ensure your spouse and your children are taken care of, but be wary of relying on the fact that everyone gets along at the moment – just ‘letting them work it out amongst themselves’ after you’re gone is often a recipe for disaster.

Your family situation is unique, and often more complex than you first think – consider speaking with an estate planning solicitor about how they can assist.

For more information on how an estate plan can assist you, contact Tom or Eloise: on (02) 4220 7100 or by emailing eyoung@accesslawgroup.com.au

This article is sponsored by Access Law Group