Why you should write a new Will when you remarry
Posted on 19th February 2020
When you marry your existing Will becomes invalid, so creating a new Will is important. If you don’t make a new Will the laws of intestacy will apply, which might not be what you want.
Around four out of every 10 weddings in the UK are remarriages. Family circumstances are often more complicated when you have been married before, and if your Will isn’t clearly written this can lead to difficulties when one partner dies.
If you die without a new Will
If you die without a Will and have children (who might not be from your new marriage) the laws of intestacy say that your partner will receive the first £250,000 of your estate and all your personal belongings. The rest of the estate will be divided equally between your partner and your children.
If you don’t have any surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, the whole estate will pass to your partner and any surviving brothers or sisters.
Who dies first
You might be surprised by last year’s decision following a three-year-long court case involving a couple who had remarried and their children.
Both husband and wife had children from previous marriages. They were joint tenants of their property and their assets amounted to £300,000.
In their Wills the couple had left everything to each other. When the surviving partner died each wanted to leave everything to their own child.
Sadly, the couple died together at home from hypothermia in 2016. It wasn’t clear who had died first, or which Will should be followed.
The two children couldn’t reach an agreement about how to divide the estate, so the question was decided in court. The judge made the decision based on The Law of Property Act from 1925, which presumes that the eldest of the two had died first.
Since the husband was older than his wife, the estate passed to his wife and then to her child. The husband’s child didn’t receive anything.
While this might be an unusual example, writing your Will carefully can help to make sure disputes between stepchildren don’t arise.
One thing you can do is to make sure that you are tenants in common rather than joint tenants for the property you own. This will mean that you each own a half share of the property rather than owning the property together.
Each partner can then pass their own half share to their children. By including a life interest trust in each partner’s Will, assets that are in their sole name can be held in a trust for their partner’s benefit until they die. The assets can be passed on to their respective children.
If you are planning to remarry, we will be happy to help your prepare Will that clearly explains what you would like to happen when you die. Please get in touch.
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