Marriage and Wills- a match made in heaven?
Meeting the right person and falling in love can feel like a whirlwind, sweeping you off your feet and you might feel like you are on cloud nine. Sometimes, marriage or entering into a civil partnership feels like the natural next step in showing your commitment to each other.
Whilst an engagement can lead to months of planning and anticipation for the big day, there are some, slightly less-romantic, issues to consider and plans to be made, such as its legal implications.
For example, many individuals do not realise that a Will which they made before their marriage or civil partnership, is automatically revoked. With that said, in the event either party should pass away, the law known as the ‘rules of intestacy’, would decide on the distribution of their estate. Currently, the rules allow for a spouse or civil partner to inherit up to £250,000 of the value of the estate and the personal belongings, known legally as ‘chattels’. If the person who has died has left any children, their children or grandchildren will be entitled to half of the value of their estate exceeding this threshold, with the spouse receiving the other half. Whilst the rules do provide for spouses to an extent, if your property is worth over this amount following your death, there is a risk that other individuals will have an interest in it which could cause problems, and they could force a sale.
Further, married couples often wish to keep their finances separate, they may have their own property or assets and wish to provide for their own respective family in their Wills. This is often the case with second marriages and particularly if they have children from previous relationships. With the law as it is, in order to provide for other individuals, you must make a Will.
Further issues to be aware of is that the act of divorcing your spouse or dissolving your civil partnership does not, in fact, revoke your Will. Instead, your Will is read as if your ‘Ex’ has died before you, and any provisions you have included to take place in such circumstances would take effect. If you do not include such onward provisions, or if you do not make a Will, again, the rules of intestacy would dictate how your estate is to be distributed. The same applies to cohabiting couples which the law does not provide for, therefore, if you do not make a Will or keep it up to date as your circumstances change, your estate could be shared between distant relatives or pass to the Crown!
Whatever your circumstances, it is very important to make a Will so that you can have peace of mind that your estate will pass to those you wish to benefit following your death. At Wolferstans, we offer a fixed-fee Will writing service where we take a holistic approach in looking at your circumstances and we consider many different issues which could affect your Will and your inheritance tax position. Once you have made a Will with us, we write to you every 2 to 3 years to remind you to consider reviewing it and we offer a free, no-obligation Will review service all year round.
If you would like to book in for a free Will review, please contact our New Client-Coordinators. Alternatively, come and see us at one of our free legal clinics held in the Plymstock branch office and at Plymstock Library. We will also have a stand at the Yealmpton Show on the 31st July if you would like to come and say hello!