Modern Family Estate Planning for The Brady Bunch
Yours, Mine, Ours, Theirs – Who Gets What?
Blended, merged, expanded, extended – today’s families are more typical of The Brady Bunch or Modern Family or something completely different, than the long-gone stereotype depicted in classic Australian drama, The Sullivans. While this can make for some fun, interesting and downright awkward family get-togethers and celebrations, it’s the occasion of a death in the family which can have the greatest potential for conflict.
Changes in your family can have a serious impact on your will and estate planning should be a major priority to avoid issues which may have long-term negative outcomes for the family members.
Both or one of either husband or wife may have children from previous marriages as well as additional children together.
The husband and wife may have brought various assets into the second marriage, e.g. one may have brought a large sum of cash, the other possibly a house, holiday home, each may hold their own superannuation and be entitled to inheritances from their own parents.
Their siblings may also have similar blended family stories which may further complicate the estate of the matriarch or patriarch.
And of course just like traditional families not everyone may get along in a blended family. There may be estrangements as a result of a bitter divorce, money issues or just family issues.
Consider the Possibilities and Probabilities
The scenarios are many and varied and so too is the potential for problems to occur when one partner dies without clear estate planning in place.
Consider just a few scenarios that may have a huge effect on your estate and could splinter your family.
- Does your estate or part of it go immediately to only your children, is it to be shared amongst all children, ie including step children, or is it all to go to your new partner?
- If you leave everything to your new partner, what happens if they remarry, start another family or form a de facto relationship and make their own new Will leaving everything to that new partner? Your children could be left with nothing.
- If you are not divorced from your first partner, what do you do about ensuring that there is not an unwelcome claim from them? Or if you are divorced, is the entitlement or exclusion of your ex clearly documented?
- If a child is estranged from the parent do they still share equally in the estate or are they to be excluded?
Estate Planning Removes the Doubt
No matter your family structure, there are ways of avoiding potential problems with astute estate planning, which includes regularly reviewing and revising your Will to ensure there are no doubts about your true intentions.
There are many different scenarios that can play out in blended families and all need to be addressed in your estate plan. The importance of having a will cannot be over-emphasised.
By speaking to us at McLaughlin & Associates Lawyers we will walk you through a number of different scenarios to get you thinking about whether they apply to you or if they were to occur in the future how you want them to be addressed.
We will then work with you to draft your Will to cater for these eventualities.
Quite often our clients readily admit they had never thought about some of the issues we raise in these circumstances and are most thankful for having discussed estate planning with us. Once their estate planning is completed, they feel a lot more comfortable and realise in hindsight how vulnerable their estate and family were to being torn apart by unexpected or unintended consequences.
Whether you consider your family blended, traditional, modern or a mix of everything, talk to us about planning your estate to ensure your intentions are clearly documented to avoid problems after your passing.