Have you heard the story of the lovely lady bringing up three very lovely girls, who met a man named Brady with three boys of his own? Of course, you have! The Brady Bunch has been in syndication since the 1970s.
The Brady’s are one of the original blended families. Mike Brady was a widower, while the whereabouts of Carol’s prior husband was kept a mystery. The whole first season of the show revolved around Mike’s three boys and Carol’s three girls adjusting to living with one another and gaining a new parent.
One thing the show doesn’t go into, but that does happen in similar situations in the real world is quite a bit of legal work. At Palmer & Slay, we help blended families in the Brandon, Mississippi area make estate planning moves that help them become a cohesive bunch.
Full Children & Step Children May Be Treated Differently
Let’s continue to use the Brady Bunch as an example. If Mike were to suddenly pass away, Carol would inherit the family’s home and the profits of Mike’s architectural work. If Mike’s previous wife or other members of his family had left some assets to him, Carol might now inherit those as well. This is why it is important for families who are bringing financial assets or liabilities to their marriage to do proper estate planning and perhaps do a pre- or postnuptial agreement as well.
Although all the girls on the show have changed their last name to Brady, suggesting that Mike adopted them, the show never indicated if any adoptions actually occurred. If no adoptions occurred, Carol could distribute the assets she inherits when Mike passes away however she would like. If she never adopted the boys, she could cut them out of her estate plan and leave all the family’s assets to her girls. The boys would have no legal recourse if all of their father’s assets became Carol’s at the time of his death.
Estate plans allow you to specify how your full children and step-children should be treated at the time of your death. You can make sure your full children are protected, and show your step-children you consider them equal to your full children. Mississippi’s default inheritance laws will not treat your step-children as well as your own children, so estate planning is necessary if you want everyone treated equally.
Remarriages Bring New Wrinkles
Consider another Brady hypothetical — Mike and Carol are both in their second marriage. What would happen if they got divorced or one of them died and the other remarried again? Would Carol’s third husband treat Mike’s kids like his own? Would he be careful to keep any assets that Carol inherited from Mike separate so that Mike’s kids could inherit them down the line? Without proper estate planning, the Brady kids could wind up with nothing.
Preserving Your Wealth. Protecting Your Loved Ones.
At Palmer & Slay we work with blended families in the Brandon, Mississippi area to make sure their loved ones are taken care of if and when a parent passes away or a couple gets divorced. There are many challenges that come with making two families into one, but estate planning shouldn’t be one of them. Let us take this task off of your to-do list. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.