24 Jun 2015

Blended Families and Estate Planning

I would say that almost one in two clients I meet with these days is in a blended family situation. Either one or both have children from previous relationships and they may also have one or more children together. Clients in these situations often approach wills and estate planning from a “mine, yours and ours” perspective. Unfortunately, estate planning for such families is not that simple.

Recent changes in WA have enabled stepchildren to challenge the estate of their step parents. Although their rights are not absolute, provided they meet certain requirements, they will be given standing to challange their step parent’s estate. As a result, for clients seeking to protect the interests of their own biological children over step children, the estate planning exercise has now become a more difficult process.

If you are in a blended family scenario, some of the matters you need to consider to include:

  1. How to treat the assets of each party prior to the commencement of the relationship – should these be carved out or all mixed together?
  2. How to divide assets between step and biological children – should each biological parent be responsible for providing for their children?
  3. Whether to make additional provision for minor children (as opposed to adult children who have had the financial support of their parent during their minority), and
  4. What provision is to be made for a second or subsequent spouse and how can this provision be protected so that the deceased’s children are the ultimate beneficaries.

If you are concerned about protecting the interests of your children or spouse it is important that you begin your planning as soon as possible. Appropriate and expert advice and planning now can often avoid costly legal disputes in the future. 

For more information, email info@hktlegal.com.au or call 08 9325 5700

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