When entering into a second marriage, with children from a first marriage, it is important to have a Will that accurately sets out your wishes. If someone dies without a Will in place, then all of their money and assets will be distributed in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy. Don’t forget that any existing Will becomes invalid on marriage.
The intestacy rules state that a spouse will inherit the first £250,000 and all personal possessions along with 50% of anything over and above £250,000. Children will receive equal shares in the other 50%. Stepchildren will not receive anything.
To give an example, if a husband dies without a Will leaving a net estate worth £450,000, his wife will inherit the first £250,000, plus half of the remaining £200,000, ie. a total of £350,000. His children will share £100,000, meaning if he has four children they will each receive £25,000.
While people often want to make sure their spouse can live comfortably for the remainder of their lives, if no Will is made then any children may receive far less than the deceased intended.
If a Will is made leaving everything to a new spouse, then the children may lose out completely if that spouse then decides to leave the money elsewhere. Even if the original intention of husband and wife was to ultimately leave the money to children from a first marriage, once one party has died, the other is free to change their Will. There is also a risk that the money may be spent, for example on care home fees.
Fortunately, there is a simple way around this problem. A Will can be drawn up leaving a lifetime interest in assets to the remaining spouse. This will allow them to continue to live in a property for as long as they wish. They can even sell the property and buy a different one if they want to move to a different area or downsize. After their death, the property and assets will pass to the children named in the original Will.
A lifetime trust will keep the assets safe and ensure that they are passed to the children of the first marriage in due course.
It is important that this sort of Will is prepared by a professional who can ensure that the implications are clearly explained and that the trust sets out exactly what is intended to happen.
To speak to an expert in Wills and trusts, ring us on (01276) 415835