Estate Planning for Blended Families

22 January 2018

Blended families are increasingly common but not all look like the Brady Bunch, which is why greater care needs to be taken when it comes to estate planning for modern families.

Even the happiest and most balanced traditional families can come to blows at difficult times, such as administering the estate of a loved one. There are always multiple points of view, personalities and emotions to take into account but this can be amplified when there is a mix of biological and step relationships.

The management of assets inevitably is more complicated for blended families. Certain steps can be taken though to minimise the chance of conflict and heartbreak at a time when families are already grieving the loss of a loved one. Thorough estate planning can also help in cases where you may wish to exclude certain parties from your Will, or need to put measures in place to protect biological beneficiaries.

One of the most common concerns is what might happen to your children and your assets should you pass away before your partner, and if they then remarry. Here are our tips for estate planning for blended families and ensuring your assets aren’t inadvertently left to the wrong person.

  • Ensure you have a binding death benefit nomination for your superannuation fund and any associated life insurances. These are not considered part of your estate, so this documentation is needed to ensure your intended beneficiaries receive what you wished.
  • Understand how you want properties to be dealt with after your death. For example do you want your spouse or children to inherit it in its entirety, or for it to be split between beneficiaries?
  • How would you like to provide for your surviving spouse, your children and your spouse’s dependents? Would you like to provide for “use” of your assets or to gift them entirely?
  • Consider setting up a Testamentary Trust for each child to ensure they receive their allocations once they receive a certain age.
  • Speak openly to your family members (spouses, biological and step children) about your wishes, so there will be no nasty surprises.

What next?

Contact Gill & Lane for advice from a qualified legal professional to assist you in your Will and estate planning.