Blended families face growing inheritance nightmare
A growing number of families are challenging their parents’ wills, as ‘blended families’ risk disintegration under the financial strain.
News of yet another high-profile family fallout over money highlights the unique strains on so-called “blended families” – households made up of different families brought together by new relationships – when it comes to cash.
A range of claims by the son of late celebrity magician Paul Daniels over the value and use of his father’s estate have been splashed across the red-tops this week, but with a growing numbers of families comprising complex histories, contested wills and expensive legal battles aren’t the exclusive domain of the famous anymore, experts are now warning.
Even if a parent has successfully navigated the intricacies of being financially even-handed during their life, they could inadvertently leave their loved ones’ heartache after their death. Even the most nuclear of families can implode following the death of a parent if the will does not contain what all the offspring expected.
And when there are children from different relationships and step-children too, there are many more opportunities for strife. This is resulting in increasing numbers of challenges to wills.
The dispute between Paul Daniels’s son and Debbie McGee about being left out of his celebrity father’s will is not just restricted to the rich and famous. As people are living longer and therefore having second and sometimes third (or more) marriages, and children from those different relationships, the challenges to wills have increased.
Anyone writing their will to leave a clear record of their decisions, including the reasons for excluding any family members to avoid the risk of the will being challenged. However, spouses, partners, exes and dependents may be able to apply to the courts for financial provision if they feel the will hasn’t properly provided for them.
It’s an emotional and complex area of law think really carefully before proceeding. Once someone raises even the prospect of disputing the will, it immediately sets families against each other at a time when they are already distressed by the loss of a loved one.