Wills and blended families

In recent years there has been a rise in the number of blended and stepfamilies within Australia.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that one in five families is a blended or stepfamily.

Today, the issue of passing assets to beneficiaries on death is becoming increasingly risky.

As the numbers of blended and stepfamilies continues to rise it is important to ensure a Will reflects an individual’s wishes.

Due to this, families should consider incorporating a Mutual Will into their estate planning. Mutual Wills can be an effective tool in an estate plan for couples where one or both partners have children from pre-existing relationships.

They can provide a degree of certainty that the gifts in the Will pass to the intended beneficiaries after the death of one party.

A Mutual Will is a Will that includes a binding contract between two parties stating that:

  1. Each party will leave their property to the mutually agreed beneficiaries
  2. During their lifetime neither party will revoke or change their Will without the consent of the other party
  3. After the death of one party the surviving party will not alter or revoke their Will to change the mutually agreed beneficiaries

If the surviving partner makes a new Will and departs from the original agreement, the effect of the contract means that the courts will impose a constructive trust over the property inherited by the survivor.

The new year is on the horizon. It may be a good opportunity for individuals who have not considered or adequately planned what would happen in the event that they were to pass away to take action.

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