Making a Will is important for a variety of reasons not least of all if you have remarried and have children from your first marriage. The latter part of the 20th century and the start of the 21st Century has seen a surge in step families. With this change in the family dynamic comes a greater responsibility to ensure you have a Will in place and that it supports your loved ones in the event of your demise. Ben Holden a lawyer who specialises in Wills answers your questions:
I have a Will and I am about to remarry. Surely I don’t need a new Will. Right?
Wrong. Marriage revokes a Will. Unless you have made a will in contemplation of your marriage to that person, any Will that you have made previously will no longer be valid. Instead a set of rules known as the Intestacy Rules will apply.
Surely if I don’t have a Will the Intestacy Rules will take care of things?
Under these Rules the first £250,000 and your personal effects passes to your spouse. The rest of your estate is split equally between your spouse and children. If those children are under the age of 18 years the money will be held for them until that age. If you are a home owner and/or have young children this situation can be far from ideal. There is potential for the interests of your children to be at loggerheads with the interests of your spouse.
What should I do?
Make a new Will. Under that Will, you can determine the destination of your assets and the age at which your children inherit. For example, many people on their second marriage choose to give their new husband/wife a right to live in the family home for life and on their death the home passes to their children. You can also name guardians to take day to day care and control for your children and the age at which they inherit e.g. 18, 21 or 25 years.
Is there anything else I should consider?
A review of life policies, pension policies and any employee related death in service benefits is advisable particularly where your ex-spouse is named as a beneficiary. These assets rarely pass through the terms of your Will and may need to be changed to ensure they do not end up in the wrong hands! Be wary of making any changes without taking legal advice, as some of these assets may belong to your ex-spouse as part of your divorce settlement.
I am about to buy a new home with my spouse. Should I still bother about a Will?
Yes. All homeowners should have a Will, particularly in these circumstances. There are two ways in which you can co-own property – ‘joint tenants’ and ‘tenants in common’. Joint tenants does not recognise the amount of money you have each put towards purchasing the property. This may be problematic if you have contributed unequal sums. Joint tenants also means that when one of you dies your property passes to the other – regardless of any terms of your Will. This may make matters difficult if you want to set up a right of occupation and/or leave your share of the home to your children. Tenants in common means you have a defined share in the property and that share passes through your Will. You can then specify the direction of your share in the property.
What steps should I take next?
If you have not done so already book an appointment with your Solicitor. This is a complex area of law and your Solicitor will be experienced and trained to guide you through the process. Get it wrong and your loved ones could be left with little option but to dispute the division of your estate.
Ben Holden is a Solicitor, Director and Head of the Wills and Probate Department at Donnelly & Elliott Solicitors in Gosport. He has over a decade of experience in dealing with elderly client matters. Ben and his team pride themselves on taking the time to understand their clients’ needs whilst offering cost effective legal solutions.
As part of their commitment to excellence in this field, Donnelly and Elliott Solicitors are proud to be accredited members of the Law Society’s Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme
Ben Holden is a member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners and a full accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly
Date: January 2017
Donnelly & Elliott Limited Solicitors|38 Stoke Road Gosport Hampshire PO12 1JG |02392 505 500| www.gosport-solicitors.co.ukImportant Note: The above information is for general guidance and in part forms the opinion of the author. It is based on the law as at the date of this note. It should not be relied upon in part or in whole as a substitute for independent legal advice. If any of the issues raised in this article effect you please contact a member of our team.
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