Estate Planning for Blended Families
Blended families are a common occurrence in Frisco, Texas. However, meeting a spouse of a blended family that has their estate planning complete is rather rare. That is a problem because when a spouse dies without a will, and s/he has children from a prior relationship, the laws of the State of Texas are rather cruel to the surviving spouse.
For instance, if a husband enters a marriage with two children, never signs a will after becoming remarried, and then dies, his children will own half of the house with their stepmother, as well as one-half of the personal community property (cash, bank accounts, etc.). Neither the age of the children nor the length of the marriage is important. To make matters worse, the surviving spouse usually only discovers their joint ownership when s/he tries to sell the house. In that instance, the discovery occurs when the title company tells the surviving spouse that the deceased spouses children must sign the deed before the sale can be consummated.
All too often, the result is bickering, negotiating, and power-plays against the stepparent. Perhaps an adult child that does not even live in the area believes that his stepparent is selling the house too low a price. Or, perhaps an adult child merely wants to negotiate a bigger portion of the sales proceeds before agreeing to sign the deed. Sometimes, an adult child will absolutely prevent the sale until the surviving spouse obtains an order for partition from the court. Even under the best-case scenario during which all the stepchildren love their stepparent and want to give him/her the house, deeds for each of the children will need to be drafted and notarized signatures will need to be coordinated before filing.
However, good news does exist. Spouses in a blended marriage can avoid some of the worry and turmoil that will follow an already painful event by signing a new last will and testament after the marriage. The courts will defer to the will instead of the intestate descent and distribution laws of the State of Texas. Additionally, transfer on death deeds can be a good tool to use.
To get started, a spouse in a blended marriage can contact any estate planning attorney in Frisco.
Robert Newton is an attorney based in Frisco, Texas, that practices estate planning, real estate law, and business law. This post is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.