This past month I have come across a very common situation several times. Blended families or parents with his, hers, and ours kids.
Unfortunately, multiple of these situations happen when it’s too late. In those situations, one side of the family is completely disinherited and often when that would not have been the wishes of either parent. When one of the parents passes, generally they leave (through beneficiaries or joint titling) everything to their spouse. The spouse then passes and leaves everything to only their children. For example, if dad passes and leaves everything to step-mom, then step-mom passes and everything is left to her children and dad’s children receive nothing. This is because without a will or another estate plan, the assets pass through the estate of the second person to die and is distributed through intestate law to that person’s family. Normally an outcome someone is unhappy with.
Instead, by forming a plan, the his, hers, and ours children can be protected. Many times both parents consider all children their own and are very happy to allow everyone to inherit equally. In that case it’s fairly simple to protect everyone with beneficiaries or trusts (depending on the level of protection the family needs).
However, sometimes, especially when planning for adult children and young children at the same time. While parents want to be fair, it’s hard to balance the ongoing needs of a young child versus the less dependent adult child. Add into this a step-parent and the situation can become very complicated quickly balancing all three sets of needs. Providing for the spouse while also making sure the step-parents isn’t resented can be problematic.
Unfortunately, intestate law and simple beneficiary designations don’t normally protect all the different interests and can cause people to mistakenly be disinherited. The only way to fully protect the entire family, including the his, hers, and ours kids is to plan. Don’t make the mistake of leaving everything to the spouse and then leaving nothing to your children.