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The Perils of Re-Marriage & Wills

by TFS Admin 9th January 2024

As a society, we are changing all the time. What was not acceptable in one generation, may be encouraged and even celebrated in later generations. Divorce, once stigmatised, is now common. Many of us who thought when we married, it would be forever, find ourselves disappointed, and daring to hope for something better. So we marry a second, third, or even fourth time. However, this can bring complexities and dangers which could mean your bid for happiness and fulfilment, resulting in heartbreak and difficulties for your loved ones.

Over the years, we have met with many people trying to balance providing for their new Spouse/Civil Partner, and their other family commitments, most commonly, being children from previous relationships.

We all want life to be as simple as possible. Simple Wills, leaving everything to each other, is what most couples would want to do. However, when there are other family ties which need to be considered, making these simple Wills can be unwise.

Consider George & Rose’s situation.

  1. George and his new wife, Rose, come to see TFS. Both have brought money and assets into their marriage, and both have been married before.

  2. George has a son (Paul) and a daughter (Lucy) from his first marriage. Both Paul & Lucy have children of their own.

  3. Rose has a son (Stephen) from a previous relationship. Stephen has never married and has no children.

  4. George & Rose want to instruct TFS to make Wills, leaving everything to each other on the first death. As Rose brought more financially into their marriage, together, they decided that on the death of the second of them, they would like 60% of their estates to pass to Stephen. The remaining 40% is to be divided equally between Paul and Lucy. If either of them dies before the survivor of George & Rose, their shares are to be passed to their children (George’s grandchildren).

Although this might seem straightforward, TFS brings the potential dangers of their wishes to George & Rose’s attention, so that they can make an informed decision.

If they make simple, straightforward Wills, on the death of the first of them, the survivor would inherit everything. As a result, what their children will ultimately inherit is entirely dependent upon the actions and circumstances of the survivor.

Let’s say George dies first. Rose inherits everything George had. However, there are many things which could happen to Rose going forward which would affect what their children (and potentially grandchildren) might ultimately inherit.

  • Longevity

The longer Rose lives, the more funds she will need, and the longer their children have to wait to receive any inheritance.

  • Health

If Rose ever needs care, this will impact Rose’s expenditure, particularly, if she ever needs to move into a care home.*

  • Romantic life

Rose might remarry (and potentially divorce), or may decide to move a new partner into the home she once shared with George.

  • Lifestyle

If Rose decides to enjoy the remainder of her life, and lives a more extravagant lifestyle, or acquires a new expensive habit (for example, cruising the world) her spending could increase. This would reduce the inheritance which may ultimately pass to the children.

  • Family relationships changing

Rose may have a falling out with either Paul and/or Lucy. Rose could make a new Will which does not include them. As a result, there is a possibility Paul and/or Lucy could receive nothing.

  • What happens if any of the children die in Rose’s lifetime?

Paul and Lucy have children of their own, so any share due to them could pass to their children. However, what about Stephen – he has no children.

    This is far from an exhaustive list of the complexities which may be involved, all of which need to be carefully considered.

    Many people feel overwhelmed when they finally sit down and think about their Wills. We understand many people just don’t feel they can face it, and put it off. However, you don’t need to do this alone.

    This blog was written by Sushma Mahey, a Chartered Legal Executive within our Private Client Department. To discuss your particular situation, please get in touch with her to arrange an appointment. She can be reached at sushma.mahey@thomasflavell.co.uk or 01926 887700.

    *Please note, at the time of writing, how much we have to pay for our care is means tested. Put simply, if you have capital over £23,250, you are responsible to pay all your fees. If you have between £14,250 and £23,250, you will be required to contribute to your care fees. Finally, if you have £14,250 or less, although you will continue to make payments towards your care from any income, the council will pay for your care fees. We can also talk to you about taking steps to protect assets legitimately in the hope of ensuring children receive something, even if the survivor of you requires long-term care.