Having children from a previous relationship certainly creates complications when it comes to inheritance. Unlike step-children, they are legally entitled to inherit from your estate. But their step parent, your present spouse, may stand to inherit more than your biological children if the Will you have written is found to be outdated or if you were to die intestate.
Legacy Wills therefore advises that you write a new Will when you get remarried. This should be done to ensure that your children are duly provided for and do not get neglected following the aftermath of your death.
Inheritance Law and Marriage
There are two things which you must keep in mind when you are getting married:
- Any Will that you may have written previously gets revoked immediately upon marriage. It will not be revoked if you had drafted the Will keeping in mind the upcoming marriage there would be a clause in your Will with regards to anticipation of marriage.
- Suppose you were to die first and are survived by a spouse and children. Your current spouse may inherit the first £250,000 of your Estate and also half of what remains of the estate. The only way this can be avoided is by having a legally valid Will in place which states otherwise.
In England and Wales, irrespective of whether you enter your first, second or third marriage, inheritance laws remain the same. The same rules are applicable even if you have children from a previous relationship.
According to the Rules of Intestacy, the preference is always given to the spouse over children and therefore your partner would remain the main beneficiary regardless of whether or not you have biological children from a previous marriage.
Wills and Second Marriages
Marriage or any life altering event must be followed by a review of your circumstances. Once you have carefully reviewed your circumstances, you should consider making amendments to your Will or maybe even writing a new Will altogether.
You may have to think carefully about how you will word your Will in view of your changed situation. It is not uncommon for people who get remarried to proclaim in their Will that they will leave everything behind to each other. Some couples have an understanding between them that upon the death of the surviving spouse, the children will inherit everything. But there is no way to be sure whether this understanding will prevail when circumstances change in the future.
While there are benefits of passing everything to your spouse from the inheritance tax perspective, it also carries a certain degree of risk.
Things may not go as planned and the surviving spouse may decide against honouring your wishes after you have passed away. They may decide to get remarried, have children of their own or simply choose to exclude your children from the inherited legacy.
By not making provisions for them while you are still alive, your children will stand at risk of inheriting nothing or very little from their own parent’s legacy. It is also possible that the surviving spouse may have accumulated debt or other additional expenses, such as care home fees, which could get passed on to your children upon their death.
Providing for Your Children
Having children from a previous relationship should make you think about the potential consequences of getting remarried. If you are on good terms with your children and want them to inherit from your legacy after you pass away, you will need to draft a Will in such a way that it protects their interests.
Making a standard Will may not be of much help when your circumstances involve children from a previous marriage. As it has been explained above, your spouse may not necessarily adhere to the understanding you may have had with them prior to your death.
In such situations, forming trusts is the best way to ensure that the future of your children is secure. There are various types of trusts that you can create to serve this purpose but the most popular choice amongst those who get remarried under similar circumstances is a Life Interest Trust or Property Trusts.
By creating such a trust you can ensure that your spouse benefits from your assets during their lifetime. You can also make provisions for the assets to be distributed amongst your children upon the death of the surviving spouse.
The advantage of making such a Will is that it provides for the financial needs of your spouse but at the same doesn’t make him or her owner of your assets. This way, the spouse doesn’t get to transfer your hard earned wealth to the beneficiaries of their choice against your wishes.
Creating a Trust ring fences your assets from those of your spouse and prevents them from being included in their own Will.
At Legacy Wills, we believe that by writing a Will, you are not only ensuring that your wishes get honoured but also that the interests of your loved ones are protected too, no matter what circumstances await for them in the future.