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In contemporary Australia, remarriage and blended families have become increasingly common. This can quickly complicate how your estate will be distributed when you pass away but thankfully with some careful planning, a lot of these issues can be avoided.

Here are some of our planning tips to consider when part of a blended family:

Time to talk

A Will sets out the way we wish for our assets to be distributed after death but often it does not shed light on why we want our assets to be divided this way. Having a discussion with your family can help them understand the reasoning for your decisions and dispel any concerns of favouritism or exclusion.

Dividing your assets

A common concern throughout the planning process is that the surviving spouse may remarry after their partner’s death, or that they may not provide for your children in their future Will. Providing specific gifts to your children can help ensure that they receive part of your estate, whilst still providing for your partner.

Choosing your executor wisely

The executor of your Will is responsible for the proper administration of your estate. Where children from previous marriages are involved, jointly appointing a child from each side of the family to act as executors can help everyone feel properly represented.

Mutual Wills  

Generally speaking, any adult who has legal capacity is entitled to make, amend, renew or revoke a Will as often as they like without restriction.

While this gives the Will-maker great freedom in deciding how they would like their estate distributed upon their death, such free reign provides little certainty for the Will-maker’s dependents such as their spouse or children.

Given this, some couples can benefit from the use of a contract of mutual Wills. This is a legal agreement between the two individuals to not change their Wills without the other’s consent. When one of them passes away, the deceased’s children are provided protection from future changes to the survivor’s Will that may disadvantage them.

Laying the groundwork NOW

Estate planning is often a topic that we don’t like thinking about, but putting it off could spell disaster for those we leave behind.

Don’t get caught out. Contact the Kells estate planning team to ensure you have proper arrangements in place for your family.