Guest blog by Marlize Venter.
I come from a very close family. I can still remember school holidays on my Nana and Pop’s farm. My mum was one of three kids and I was one of six cousins. I had a carefree childhood. When I was 20 years old, my Nana died. The slumbering dementia slowly awakened in my Pop and a year or so later he married a gold digger. My Pop was once prosperous farmer but he almost lost everything. Was it not for the quick thinking of my Pop’s three children and the family solicitor, he would have lost absolutely everything he and my Nana worked so hard to achieve during their lives together.
Luckily my Pop got divorced before he died and he amended his Will so that his children would inherit whatever was left of his estate.
I know that blended families are (sadly!) an every day occurrence, but I do not think people take the blended family possibility into account when they make their Will and sign other estate related documentation.
Have you thought about your spouse remarrying?
I have been married twenty years and while I never think about divorce, strangling my better half has crossed my mind. (This really is a lame joke, but a very relatable one I hope.) Recently, during a business networking breakfast, a financial planner asked, “Who gets your estate when you die?”
“My husband, of course,” I answered.
“If he gets married again, are your children looked after?” I felt blood rushing to my ears. What, my husband remarrying after I die? How dare he move on and be happy again! Please see the smiley face emoticon that is intended here.
No, I do not think my kids are looked after if he decides to get hitched again. I am operating from a trust aspect that he will do right by them. But, as we all know, ‘all is fair in love and war.” Unfortunately, in many instances, a second marriage can resemble a battlefield, especially when it comes to estate planning.
If I die before my husband and I leave everything to him and he remarries a few years later, the chances are very good that our kids may not receive as much from our estate, especially if he dies without a Will.
If my husband dies without a Will, the Intestacy legislation shall apply which means his second spouse will get a larger distribution from the pool of (our) assets. Hence, I have to think of the possibility of my current husband becoming another woman’s husband. She may not like my kids and if she receives everything on the death of my husband, she may exclude my kids from any benefit that may be due to them from the estate.
Not only do I have to think of my kids, but what if the ‘other’ woman brings children of her own into the relationship? If the other children are financially dependent on my husband when he dies, then the other children may be able to make a claim against (our) estate. The result may mean that my kids may get less of (our) assets.
As I think through this possible scenario, I want to go and smack my husband for getting married again!
No such thing as a simple will!
Can you see how a seemingly simple Will is not simple at all? Whether you are in your first marriage or you are part of a blended family, I do not think there is such a thing as a simple estate these days.
How to provide for your kids if your spouse remarries after you die
There are various ways to provide for your children if you are part of a blended family. Some of the ways are:
Talk to a Wills and Estate Planning Lawyer who can advise you.
Take out a separate life insurance policy that will pay directly to your children so that they receive a payout regardless if there are any issues with your Will (consult a Financial Advisor for this advice).
Make them the beneficiaries of your Superannuation (Again, get advice from your Financial Advisor to make sure such an option is possible with your Superannuation Fund)
Consider a Will with a Testamentary trust as opposed to a standard Will
If there is one thought that I would prefer not to think of at this very moment, it is that my husband may get married again. I would like to think that I am the love of his life and that no one would ever be able to replace me. However, I have to be realistic and that means that I have to plan for the possibility of it happening.
If any of you are concerned about ‘Blended Family’ issues or if you are part of a Blended Family and you want to make sure your Will suits your objectives for your loved ones, call Shirley Tascone from SBT Legal. Shirley is a Wills and Estate Planning Lawyer and she can advise you how to proceed accordingly.