Advice for Blended Families making Wills
Paul Brennan is the principal of Brennans Solicitors, a law firm located on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, where he practices with his wife, Diane in the areas of business law, litigation, property and wills/estates.
Over the years, by working in various countries, he noticed how similar the law can be. He set out to explain the law in a simple and often humorous way.
Why did Walt Disney not have something cheesy to say about Step Mothers? Answer: they are a thoroughly bad lot, that’s why. Luckily you decided not to marry again (yet) and although suspicious of the new lady in your life, your adult children have not been too hostile (yet).
After three years or so, your minds will turn to making wills. She has no children and is prepared lovingly to give everything to you. You want to see her right but to look after your own children too.
You decide to consider carefully what your children will want. Within seconds you guess, “everything”.
She will want your home. You give it to her for the duration of her life and then it will go to your children. On your death your children will do the “math” and decide that “your lady” has at least 30 years to go and may see them out. She may make a court claim for full ownership of the house. This is either because she is, understandably, fearful about her future security or a bit of an old bag depending on who you speak to, her lawyer or your children. The house needs repairs. You know the ones you never got around to. Who is going to pay for those? The only thing they can agree on is that it is all your fault.
As you will be dead perhaps you do not care, but think of your lawyer, he will be getting to an age where he does not need this nonsense.
The answer is to give her the house outright. Take out an insurance policy on your life to give your children, the equivalent value of the house.
If you are too old to be insured, there are other solutions. For instance, why not leave the ladies alone and buy a dog?
Extract from "A LEGAL GUIDE TO DYING-baby boomer edition."
© Paul Brennan 2008. All Rights Reserved.