Importance of Having a Will for Blended Families
Jun 24, 2020
Having a blended family is very common in Wisconsin. Many married people assume that when they die all their assets will go to their spouse, but that is not always the case for blended families. Learn how the State of Wisconsin will distribute your assets if you die leaving a spouse and children from a previous relationship and have no Last Will and Testament.
What is a Blended Family?
A basic definition of a blended family, also called a step family, is a family where one or both parents have children from a previous relationship. The parents are married and may or may not have biological children together. The parents may be in a same sex or heterosexual relationship.
What Happens If You Don’t Have a Will?
If you die without a will, leaving a spouse and children from a previous relationship, your assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. In Wisconsin, that means that your children will receive half of your non-martial property and half of your marital property. Let’s look at an example.
Bob has two children from a previous relationship before marrying Betty. Bob and Betty bought a house together prior to marriage as tenants in common worth $200,000. Bob has a bank account with $20,000 from before the marriage and Bob and Betty have a joint account with $50,000. Bob dies without having an estate plan. The children are entitled to the following:
- All of Bob’s interest in property held with Betty as tenants in common $100,000
- One half of Bob’s individual property $10,000
- One half of the martial property $25,000
Bob’s estate owes the children $135,000. If Betty wants to keep the house, she needs to pay the estate $100,000 for Bob’s share, however Betty is only left with $35,000 in the bank.
Most are surprised by how the assets are distributed in a blended family. You may be okay with how your assets will be divided, but your spouse or children may not be. Not having a will can cause unnecessary tension and may require a judge in probate court to settle the matter.
Estate Planning is essential for blended families. At Pedersen Law Office, LLC we offer free consults and will meet with you personally to discuss your specific circumstances and goals. Our law office serves the communities of Appleton, Kimberly, Kaukauna, Menasha, Neenah, Oshkosh, Green Bay, De Pere and their surrounding areas.