The Consequences of an Outright Distribution to a Spouse in Blended Families

Estate planning can be complicated in blended families.

If you have children from a prior relationship, making an outright distribution of your estate to your spouse may result in your children being disinherited.

Why?

Because when you make an outright distribution to your spouse, your spouse has the power to do whatever he or she wants with the inherited assets, which may include disinheriting your children, intentionally or not.

I received a note from a man whose father died four years ago. His parents were divorced, and his father had remarried. During his father’s last illness, he wrote a holographic Will giving all his worldly possessions to his wife. His father likely assumed that after she passed away, she would distribute everything to her stepsons, but she died two years later without a Will.

Every state has intestacy laws, which provide an orderly way to dispose of assets for those who die without a Will. The Texas intestacy statutes are rigid and inflexible. Stepchildren are not legal heirs, which means that her stepsons did not receive any portion of the estate. Instead, their step-uncle, who they had met just several times in their lives, swooped in, changed all the locks, and took control.

It’s likely not what their father intended, but without a Will, the intestacy statutes control.

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