When asked if they are going to disinherit their children, most folks reply, “Of course not.” However, many of them do, unintentionally.
The Perils of a Blended Family
Unfortunately, the unintentional disinheritance of children happens every day. It usually happens in blended families, which are comprised of second, third, or even forth marriages and children from previous relationships.
No matter what promises are made or understandings are had, a spouse that is not the parent of all of your children may not give assets to those children when you die.
The Perils of Joint Ownership
One of the most significant perils of joint tenancy is that children may be disinherited.
In the case of joint tenancy with right of survivorship between married persons, when you die all those assets go directly, by operation of law, to your surviving spouse.
Neither your will nor your trust control jointly owned assets if you die before your spouse.
Here’s an Example
Consider this example and how it would play out in your own family.
Jake and Melissa were married a few years ago; they put nearly all that they owned in joint names. This included their house, bank accounts, and investments accounts.
They both had two children from previous marriages.
Jake was killed by a DUI driver and Melissa inherited everything they owned jointly…all the money in the bank, the investments, and the house. When Melissa dies, her own two children will inherit these assets unless she has a will or trust that includes Jake’s children as beneficiaries. However, that planning decision is solely under Melissa’s control.
Unless Melissa does the necessary planning to include them, Jake’s children will never inherit anything from Jake.
Get Legal Guidance
If you have a blended family, your estate planning has an extra layer of complexity and, in most cases, joint tenancy should be avoided. However, with thoughtful, comprehensive planning, the problems of a blended family can be addressed. Consult with an experienced and qualified estate planning to avoid the unintentional disinheritance of your children.