Estate Planning for Blended Families

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Estate Planning for Blended Families

In this podcast, Estate Planning Lawyer Elise Jaques discusses factors and challenges that can arise in estate planning for blended families.

TRANSCRIPT

Speaker.:

At Big Law, we are big on providing you great legal help. If you have a family law, business law, wills and estates, commercial law, or conveyancing issue, we’re here to help. Now, here is your podcast.

Dan:

The family unit, as we know for many, can be complex. This is particularly the case for blended families. In this context, estate planning can pose some challenges, particularly with respect to who is a child for succession purposes.

Dan:

Well, to discuss the matter and others today, I’m with estate planning lawyer Elise Jaques from Big Law. Elise, at the outset, what is a child in the context of estate planning?

Elise:

That’s a great question, Dan, as it’s particularly important for your estate plan to understand who the potential beneficiaries of your estate may be. And more importantly, who may be eligible to bring a claim against your estate, if adequate provision hasn’t been made.

It’s a question that we actually find can often cause confusion with clients. To put it simply, though, the Queensland Succession Act defines your child to include any child, stepchild, or adopted child. What this means for succession purposes is that your child is not only limited to your biological child.

Dan:

Okay. So a child is my stepchild if I’m married to their parent. Is that the case?

Elise:

Yes. For succession purposes, a child would be considered as your stepchild if you’re married to their parent. However, a child is also your stepchild if you are in a de facto relationship or civil partnership with their parents. So marriage is not the only relationship which creates the relationship of stepchild and step parent.

Dan:

So what stops the relationship of stepchild and step parent?

Elise:

If you’re married, then, to the stepchild’s parent, then your divorce would bring an end to the relationship of stepchild and step parent.

Elise:

If you are in a de facto relationship, however, or a civil partnership, then the ending of that relationship or termination of that partnership would similarly bring an end to the stepchild and step parent relationship.

Dan:

What does that mean in the context of estate planning, generally?

Elise:

For estate purposes, what it means if there has been a breakdown in your relationship, particularly your marriage, it’s important that you consider finalising your divorce to bring an end to any stepchild and step parent relationship.

Elise:

We’ve seen a lot of clients recently who have separated from their spouse and who have attended to a property settlement. Sometimes that can be some years ago, but they haven’t turned their attention to finalising their divorce. A lot of the time they’ve moved on with their respective lives. But they haven’t brought an end to that relationship of stepchild and step parent, which continues.

Dan:

It might be an obvious question, but why is it so important to consider the relationship of stepchild and step parent as part of your overall estate plan?

Elise:

As I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast, Dan, it’s important that you know who may be eligible to bring a claim against your estate, if adequate provision has not been made for them in your will.

Elise:

In Queensland, the Succession Act provides that there are three classes of people who are eligible to bring a claim against your estate if they have not been adequately provided for. This type of claim is called a Family Provision Application, or it’s often abbreviated to an FPA.

Elise:

Who may be your child is of particular concern in such instances, as one of the classes of people who is eligible to bring that family provision application against your estate is a child. So as we’ve discussed, that actually includes a stepchild as well.

Dan:

If I’m in a blended family relationship, should I be looking at now updating my estate plan if I haven’t done that already?

Elise:

Yes. We actually recommend that you review your estate plan every 12 months. But if you are in a blended relationship, if you’ve recently entered into a marriage or a de facto relationship, then it’s a good idea to speak with your lawyer to ensure that your estate plan actually reflects your current wishes.

Elise:

If it’s your intention that your stepchild does not benefit from your estate, which is quite frequently the question we do receive, then your lawyer can also discuss the risks of failing to make any provision for that stepchild, and what other options could be implemented to ensure that your wishes are actually carried into effect.

Dan:

Elise, if anyone’s got any specific questions, they can obviously reach out to you at Big Law?

Elise:

Yeah. We’d be happy to help them obviously with their estate plan, Dan. As I said, it’s really important that any estate plan reflects the person’s current wishes.

Dan:

Elise, thanks for joining me.

Elise:

Thanks, Dan.

Anncr.:

Thanks for listening. Need further information? Visit us at biglaw.com.au.

 

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We are a successful well-established legal practice based in Strathpine, Brisbane. We have earned a reputation for providing trustworthy, practical legal advice to a diverse range of clients, in both Brisbane and regional Queensland.

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