This is the second in a series titled 4 Things the Brady Bunch Can Teach Us About Estate Planning.
- Marriage invalidates a will
- Partners do not always contribute equally to the family asset pool;
- Parents often want to make uneven provision for the various children;
- People normally want their new partner to have a roof over their head for life (or at least while they remain single and independent!)
It is extremely rare that both partners bring the same quantum of assets to a new relationship and they typically want to protect their children’s share of the inheritance. Most clients are extremely motivated to make sure that their wills are “fair” and do not inadvertently dilute their own children’s inheritance by passing assets to their new step brothers or sisters. However they will also care deeply for the security of their new spouse.
Every family is different and every estate plan is unique. That said the adviser working in this area will see many issues cropping up over and over again, these may include:
- What expectations do all the family members have as to who lives in the family home after the first spouse dies?
- How will the surviving spouse afford to live? Do they have their own resources? If they are not provided for will they be forced to challenge the will?
- Do the clients have children together?
- What assets do the clients want to pass onto their blood children?
- Are their special needs or disabilities within the beneficiary groups?
- Are the members of the family groups likely to fight or challenge the wills?
- Who will can be trusted to be Executors, who will hold Powers of Attorney and Guardianship (Geography, education and character are important considerations here)!
Identifying the client’s wishes can take multiple meetings as they think through their objectives and often the solution simply contains instructions to sell everything and provide specific % allocations to the various children. Both wills will often contain identical clauses and sometimes the clients must simply trust that the survivor will not change their will after their spouse has died.
If your clients want more certainty then the solutions will contain elements such as trusts with restrictions and life tenancies in the family home – more on this in a future email. Whilst we all know of families that descend into bloody feuds over money this is not the norm and it is quite possible that the clients don’t want to go to great lengths or complexity – however this may be necessary.
In many, if not most, cases the issues are not technically complex to resolve and the mere act of facilitating the conversation is the greatest value you can bring to your clients. In a post FOFA fee for service advice world this conversation is an inexpensive yet deeply personal value add you can bring to your clients.
The Estate Planning For Life service guides the adviser through these issues and help shape the conversation with the clients providing a pathway to the deeper client engagement.
To find out more about what EPFL can do for you and your clients click this link.
Good advice puts people first!