Protecting Your Golden Years

With more than 40 years of experience

Wills simply aren’t enough to address blended families

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2018 | Firm News, Wills |

For those in Georgia who live in a blended family, meaning one in which there are children not born of the current marriage, estate planning needs are a bit more complicated. Without the proper precautions, it’s possible for one’s intended heirs to end up with little or nothing. Wills are not always sufficient to cover every aspect of estate planning needs

One of the most important realities of estate planning involves designating beneficiaries on insurance, retirement, savings and other accounts. Many people aren’t aware that these beneficiary designations usually “override” the provisions laid out within a will. It’s even possible for a court to make determinations outside of current inheritance laws. 

One example pertains to a man who had a very close and loving relationship with his stepsons. In fact, he even referred to them as his “beloved sons” when drafting his will. The man had a pension worth nearly $300,000 and had designated his wife as his beneficiary. After his wife’s death, however, he never changed that designation.

Upon the man’s death, the pension plan administrator failed to recognize the stepsons as the man’s children and distributed the benefits to the man’s siblings. The stepsons sued, but in appeals, the court eventually ruled that the siblings were entitled to the benefits, which seems to be out of line with what the man had intended. As this case highlights, families in Georgia and across the nation should review their wills and beneficiary designations on a regular basis to ensure they accurately reflect their intentions.