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Probate Horror Story #15: Blended Families

Welcome to the 15th in a series of Probate Horror Stories, courtesy of The Brown Law Firm, LLC. Last month our topic covered how inheritance can be affected when there are multiple marriages in the mix. This month we will focus on a potential pitfall of blended families without a will.

Fictional Situation: Alice, Joe & Brandon

  • Alice & Joe, married for 10 years, 2 children, divorced
  • Alice & Joe: no will or trust
  • Brandon, divorced, 2 children
  • Alice & Brandon, remarried together, had 1 child together
  • Alice & Brandon: 5 adult children between them
  • Alice & Brandon: no will or trust

When Alice and Joe were married, they quickly started a family and found themselves busy with the life they were building together. Making a will was always on the To Do list, but never actually done. As time went on and Alice and Joe drifted apart, they ultimately decided to part ways. The split was amicable and their possessions were easily split. There never seemed to be any real rush to create a will.

When Alice met Brandon, a divorced dad with 2 children, they soon formed a blended family with their 4 children. All of their assets were comingled. They also wanted a child together, so they ultimately had 5 children between them. With all of the hubbub of life with that large  blended family (including the conflicts), creating a will continued to get pushed down the To Do list. As the children all grew up, left home and started families of their own, life seemed to be smooth sailing for Alice and Brandon.

Of course, life doesn’t always sail smoothly, even in the calmest of situations. If Alice passes away unexpectedly and without a will (intestate), the courts would most likely award Brandon, her current husband, most of her assets because they had comingled their assets. When Brandon creates his will, he could decide to completely disinherit Alice’s children that she had with Joe if there was any bad blood among them. In fact, he could disinherit all of their children! Or, he could choose to give part of the estate to some of his favorite children and leave the others out. Regardless, it’s a potentially sticky situation that could not only drive a wedge between Brandon and the children but also drive a deeper wedge among the adult children and even Joe.

As a result, the probate process could become extremely ugly, complicated, lengthy and expensive. If Alice had taken time to create a will, her children from her first marriage could have been protected and they could have received some of her estate. Alice may have even been able to protect the other children in the family if she sensed there might be conflict regarding their inheritances in the future.

Blended families are very common today. Even if everyone in the blended family gets along great, inheritance has a way of bringing out the worst in people. If you want to know the best ways to make a will or trust for a blended family, contact the experts at The Brown Law Firm, LLC. Call (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online. Our Denver will lawyers can help you protect your assets and provide fully for your entire family.

Watch for our blog next month for the next installment in our Probate Horror Story Series.