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Wills and second marriages

Around a third of all marriages in England and Wales involve couples where at least one of them has been married previously and often there are children from previous relationships too. A second marriage can have a significant impact on someone’s estate after they pass away because a new marriage automatically cancels any existing Will that is in place, unless there are specific provisions in place already for this.

In some cases, this can mean that people who had previously been beneficiaries are no longer in line to inherit anything after the person passes away, unless steps are taken to make a new Will that ensures the wishes of the deceased are taken into account. This could potentially include children from a previous relationship receiving very little or nothing from the estate of their parent.

Our Wills team can give specialist advice on Wills for second marriages in the UK, inheritance tax and any other considerations for your estate in the future. Get in touch to find out more by calling 0161 696 6238.

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Advice on Wills for second marriages

Making a Will after a second marriage is very important if you wish people other than your current spouse to inherit the majority of your estate. Any previous Will is automatically overruled by your new marriage, which means that your new husband or wife would be set to inherit the first £270,000 of your estate and at least half of your remaining estate if you pass away first. The same applies for third marriages. Essentially, the new spouse is given priority over any children and is therefore the main beneficiary.

Second marriage typical Wills often include provision for children from a previous relationship as well as providing for your current spouse.

If I remarry, what happens to my Will?

Remarrying will mean that your existing Will is instantly revoked by the new marriage. This law regarding Will and remarriage can catch people out if they fail to take legal advice before taking this step.

There can be other provisions made in second marriage Wills, and it’s important to note that if you pass away before your current spouse, they can choose to change their own Will, remarry and have further children, regardless of any non-legally binding agreement or understanding you have with them now about including your children etc. Therefore, it’s important to look at second marriage Wills as a way to make your wishes clear for your estate.

Can a spouse override your wishes in your Will?

A spouse cannot override your Will after your death unless they have the agreement of all of the beneficiaries of your Will. The wishes for your estate that are outlined in your Will are not able to be changed (unless your beneficiaries agree to this), but if you have an unwritten agreement with your spouse about who will inherit, they are not obliged legally to honour this after your death if they choose not to.

They can change their own Will in any way they wish to, but it doesn’t affect the validity of your Will.

How are assets divided in a second marriage?

Assets from the deceased’s estate will automatically follow the rules of intestacy if there is no Will in place (or a previous Will was revoked by the new marriage). The surviving spouse will inherit the assets (including property) up to the value of £270,000 and half of the remaining estate.

The final half of the remaining estate is divided equally between any surviving children.

How do I protect my assets in a second marriage?

Before entering into a second marriage, you may wish to consider a prenuptial agreement. Whilst not currently legally binding in the UK, pre-nups are generally followed in the event of the divorce and financial settlement process, so they can be a useful way to protect assets.

Another way to protect assets in a second marriage is to ensure you write a new Will once you are married that clearly states your wishes for your assets and estate if you are to pass away before your spouse. This can help ensure that any children you have from a previous relationship are made beneficiaries of your estate to the degree of your choosing.

How do I make a Will for a second marriage?

We can offer specialist legal advice to individuals who are entering into or have already entered a second or third marriage and wish to update their Will. We can help ensure that your wishes are reflected in your new Will and we offer tailored advice depending on your circumstances.

Get in touch to find out more about Wills for remarriages by calling 0161 696 6238.

Further information

The advice provided to non-face to face clients will be through electronic or written communication only e.g. by telephone and email. Stephensons Solicitors LLP assumes no responsibility for, and shall not be liable for, (a) verification of mental capacity or testamentary capacity (b) verification of any undue influence or duress involved (c) the execution of any documents.

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