Drafting a Will to suit Blended Families

Drafting a Will can present a variety of challenges, especially if the person making the Will (the testator) is part of a blended family. RMB Estate Planning Lawyer EDEN-MONIQUE HULL explains:

In Australia, the “blended family scenario” is something that is becoming more common. Drafting a Will for a testator from a blended family requires careful planning in order to try and ensure that all members of the testator’s family will be provided for and therefore reduce the chances of disputes amongst family members after the testator’s death.  

The ‘blended family scenario’ is one where the testator has a spouse, a former spouse,  children with the former spouse and possibly also children with their current spouse. The testator may have property (such as a house) in their sole name or held with the spouse as tenants in common or as joint tenants.

The testator may wish to ensure their spouse, their children with the former spouse and their children with their spouse, are all provided for in one way or another.

How each family member can be provided for will depend on the property the testator owns and who the property is owned with.

One way the testator may provide for their family is through the creation of a life estate. A testator may create a life estate if they own their house solely or with their spouse as tenants in common.

Creating a life estate will give their spouse the right to reside in the home for the duration of their life (known as a life tenancy) and give their children the right to receive the property later after their spouse no longer resides there (known as a remainder interest).

Questions to be considered when creating a life estate include:

  • Who will be responsible for payment of the outgoings for the house, such as rates and water?
  • Who will be responsible for insuring the house?
  • What will happen if the circumstances of the testator’s family changes after time, such as the spouse requiring aged care?
  • What will happen to the testator’s personal effects? Who will receive them and when?
  • Who will be entitled to receive any income generated by the property?

RMB’s experienced Estate Planning lawyers can help you navigate this intricate area of the law. For further information contact us.

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