Caring for your spouse and your children- How to strike the right balance
Second marriages often create a number of estate planning challenges for couples. These challenges become more apparent where there are children from a previous relationship or marriage to consider.
In addition to seeking to balance the interests of your new spouse* and children in day-to-day life, it will also be necessary to look ahead to the future to determine how you wish to distribute your estate.
As marriage has an immediate legal effect on your estate, it makes sense to consider your estate wishes early; discussing these together.
1 – The effect of marriage on an existing Will
Marriage automatically revokes an existing Will. If you do not take steps to make a Will, the rules of intestacy will apply to your estate from the date of your wedding; this may or may not be what you both want.
2 – What does this mean for my estate?
If your new spouse and your children survive you, your estate will be distributed such that:
- your spouse will inherit all of your personal possessions (including any jewellery and family heirlooms) and the first £270,000 of your estate outright.
- the remainder will be divided:
- 50% for your spouse; and
- 50% shared between your children equally. Each child becoming entitled to their share at 18.
This may mean that your children inherit less than you originally intended. Furthermore, any assets that your spouse receives on your death will be theirs to dispose of as they wish. There is no obligation on your spouse to benefit your children.
3 – How can I protect my children’s inheritance?
The best way to protect your children is to consider the use of a Will trust. The purpose of the trust is to provide a mechanism to support the survivor while protecting the underlying assets for the children. The trust is designed to protect against the risk that your spouse may disinherit your children (intentionally or not) or water down their inheritance.
Meeting with a solicitor will allow you to discuss your wishes for your spouse and children and receive advice on the various Will structures available and the tax implications of those different structures.
If you would like to discuss preparing a new Will to balance the interests of your children and your new spouse, please click here for our contact details or visit our Will page. We would be happy to help.
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*Please note the term spouse includes civil partners.