With blended families, the standard provisions for intestate succession (the distribution of money if you do not have a Will) can produce results that are very different than a person might prefer, or even expect.
First, if there are non-joint children, when the first spouse dies, half of that person’s probate assets will go to that person’s children. This half will be split equally among ALL of that person’s children, including any children that are joint children (i.e. any children who are also children of the surviving spouse).
The other half will go to the surviving spouse.
Some people expect and would prefer all of the probate assets to go to the surviving spouse.
Others expect and would prefer half or all of the probate assets to go to the non-joint children.
Still others would like the assets to be available for the surviving spouse if that person needs it during his or her life, but would like to have anything that is left go to their own children instead of the second spouse’s heirs when the second spouse dies or no longer needs the money.
Doing a Will, or in some cases a Will with a Testamentary Trust embedded in the Will, or even a stand alone currently funded Trust, can ensure that your assets flow to the people you intend when you pass on, with appropriate safeguards or contingencies built in where this is appropriate.
Steven A. Heinrich
Divorce & Custody
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