27 April 2016

Wills after a second marriage

Lucy Butterfint Partner and Head of Wills, Estates, Tax & Trusts

Following a recent article in the Sunday Times supplement, Lucy Butterfint, senior solicitor, takes a look at ways in which people can protect their assets for their own children, when marrying for the second time.

In the Sunday Times Money supplement, published on 24 April 2016, there was an article about people who may be marrying for a second time and ways in which they can protect their assets for their own children.

It referred to the number of claims being made against deceased estates which have rocketed in the past few years, some of these related to the lack of provision for children, especially following second marriages.

Some people still don't realise that even though they may have made a will previously, if they subsequently get married this usually has the effect of revoking any former will they have made, resulting in the estate being distributed in accordance with the intestacy provisions. These set out that the first £250,000 of an estate (not including joint assets which pass immediately to the surviving co-owner/account holder ) will go automatically to the spouse, with only anything over this then split between the spouse and any children.

Even if there are valid wills in place often this leaves everything first of all to the surviving spouse for them to do as they like, with children getting any remaining assets on the second death. This however, relies upon the surviving spouse not changing their will and retaining their former step-children as beneficiaries.

The article mentioned prenuptial agreements, referring to them in this case as "silver nups", becoming more common, However, the article made clear that they are not legally binding and are just another factor taken into consideration by the courts if a claim is made against a deceased estate.

The most important thing in this situation is to have a detailed and properly drafted will drawn up by a solicitor. We can advise you about the options in your particular circumstances and ways in which you can provide some security for your new spouse whilst protecting the capital for your respective children and avoid, as far as possible, expensive litigation claims being made against your estate after you die.

If you'd like any advice on drafting your will, do contact me or any of our wills, estates, tax & trusts team.

To read the Times article in full, click here.

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