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  • Gabriella Ferraro

Blended families: purchasing property

Written by Catherine Micallef

Edited by Gabriella Ferraro

A "blended family" is the term used to describe a family consisting of a couple, any children they may have together, and their children from previous relationships.

Estate planning for blended families can often pose significant challenges for clients and their solicitors.

One important consideration is the manner in which you own real property with your new partner. If you purchase a home with your new partner, the property can be held either as “joint tenants” or as “tenants in common”.

If you intend to provide for your partner, any children from previous relationships and your children together, it is important that you understand the terms used when registering a property in your name with your spouse or de facto partner.

Joint Tenants

If you own a property with your partner in this manner, you both have a 100% interest in the property at the same time. Also, the right of survivorship applies, so if there are two partners on title as joint tenants, the when one partner predeceases, the other partner will own the entire property as the survivor. The predeceasing partners Will, will not be able to deal with this property.

Tenants in Common

If you own a property with your partner in this manner, you co-own the property in defined shares and each of you are able to dispose of your share in the property during your lifetime or through your Will. So in this instance, when one partner predeceases, their share of the property can pass according to their Will to anyone, including children from a previous relationship.

Most people in blended families generally chose to own their property as tenants in common so they can control how their interest in the property is disposed of. However it is important to note, that this disposal is only in relation to the share that the deceased owns, so if being transferred to children they will become co-owners with the surviving partner. This could lead to its own set of complications.

Finally, it is important to note that any disposition through a Will can be disputed by an ‘eligible person’. An Eligible person, which includes a spouse, child or step child, can make a claim on your estate for further provision. This is known as a Part IV Claim.

Estate planning and Wills for blended families should be carefully approached and considered. Please contact our Wills and Estates team to discuss the best options for your circumstances.

The information provided in this article is general advice only. Given that each situation is unique, we recommend that you contact our office if you are considering purchasing property with your partner. You can contact our office on (03) 9311 8911.

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