Many parents today have re-married for one reason or another in their later adult life. It is quite common for people who have lost a long-term partner go on to re-marry later in their life. This can create quite complex families with adult children from both sides becoming part of one family. In a new family setup like this it is actually very easy for children on one side of the family to be accidentally disinherited (or sideways disinherited as the legal phrase would describe).
So how does this work? My own real scenario is below:
My father passed away when I was an adult and my mother inherited full ownership of the family home, life insurance and some other assets. Five years after my father passed away my mother re-married. Hence sharing all property and assets with her new husband equally. Should my mother pass away without planning the distribution of her assets, then her new husband effectively inherits everything. This means children (like myself) from the first marriage are disinherited.
This is quite a common occurrence and can be the source of many family disputes in today’s society.
The best thing to do is for parents to take advice from a professional estate planning consultant who will guide the new family through the potential pitfalls and can put in place measures to protect the assets from the original family for the original family. Or alternatively re-distribute assets, valuables and mementos to the correct people.
In a scenario such as this it is more often the items perceived as “smaller” like photographs and jewellery that can be the most emotive. Planning in advance can save a tremendous amount of heartache and hassle for all involved by avoiding those awkward conversations or family fall-outs after your gone.