If you want to be sure that your wishes concerning your money and possessions will be met when you die, then it’s vital to have an up-to-date Will in place.
Not saving enough
Drawing up a Will is a straightforward process and prevents disputes between relatives, enables you to pass your assets on to future generations and can help you cut the Inheritance Tax bill on your estate after your death. If you have already been married and are embarking on a second or subsequent marriage, then it’s important to think about the terms of your Will and how you’d like your assets to be distributed now that your circumstances have changed.
The law in England and Wales
In England and Wales, a Will is automatically revoked on marriage (unless it is made specifically in anticipation of marriage). This means that when you remarry you no longer have a valid Will in place. So, if you die, your estate will be dealt with under the rules of intestacy. Under these rules, the estate of anyone who dies without a Will who is in a marriage or civil partnership where there are no children, passes entirely to the surviving spouse or civil partner and other relatives will receive nothing. If the spouse or civil partner dies without a Will and there are children of that relationship, a surviving spouse or civil partner will receive £250,000, plus half of the balance absolutely, with the remainder going to the children.
The law in Scotland
In Scotland, marriage does not invalidate a Will as it does in England and Wales. This means that making a new Will is essential if you get married again; if not, your former spouse could inherit if that was what your old Will stipulated. Distributions under intestacy also differ in Scotland, where The Succession (Scotland) Act 2016 has introduced a number of other changes upon which advice from a Scottish solicitor may be needed.
Points to consider
Following remarriage, thousands of UK households are now made up of blended families, often comprising children belonging to different partners, grown-up offspring, new babies, aunties, uncles and multiple sets of grandparents. If you’re part of an extended family you will need to consider carefully how you would like your estate to be distributed on your death. If you were to leave your estate to your new spouse, it automatically becomes part of their assets. So, if you want to ensure your children from a previous marriage benefit, then you will need to write your Will accordingly. Many people in this position find that the best way to proceed is to create a trust in their Will allowing the spouse to use the assets during their lifetime, with the assets distributed amongst the children on their death.
Planning your estate can be a complex matter, so taking legal advice is essential.