Blended Families and Wills

It is common knowledge that divorce is an everyday occurrence in the United States, and New Jersey is no exception.  Although divorce is a sad and difficult event, it is also common for divorced parties to move on and remarry.  While some of these remarriages will involve only adults, it is also common for one or both of the new spouses to have minor children from a prior marriage.  There are many considerations for blended families, including adjusting parenting time schedules, changing living arrangements, and altering future plans.  One of the important parts of this new reality is making sure to take your last will and testament into account.

When drafting a will for a traditional family (i.e., one where the only children the spouses have are shared with each other), it is typical for all of the assets to be left to the other spouse, sometimes with extra trusts or other provisions made for the parties’ minor children.  This structure can create problems, however, when the spouse has children with a former spouse or partner.  In a blended family, if the deceased spouse left all of his or her assets to the new spouse, that new spouse can then decide to completely exclude the children of their deceased spouse from his or her estate plan.  For example, if Fred has two children from a prior marriage but leaves all of his assets to his new wife, Rita, she can then decide to completely disinherit Fred’s children from the prior relationship.

The most essential step in estate planning for a blended family is ensuring that you actually do draft and execute a valid last will and testament.  If you fail to do so, your assets will be distributed according to the New Jersey laws of intestacy.  This means that the law will dictate exactly who receives your property, and in what proportion.  The reason this is especially detrimental in the case of blended families is that it makes no provision for your step-children.  In the cases that you want to make sure your step-children receive any part of your estate, you will have to make sure to execute a will naming them as beneficiaries.

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We have extensive experience helping our clients with many issues involving blended families.  Contact us today for a consultation to talk about planning for your family’s future.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us at info@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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