Not many people realise that when you get married, any Will you already have will usually become invalid.
The law states that marriage automatically makes a Will void unless it specifically makes reference to the new marriage. This is known as a Will in contemplation of marriage and the Will must name your new spouse, not merely refer to marriage in general terms.
Who Gets Your Money If You Die Without A Will?
If you do not have a Will or you marry, so that your existing Will is no longer valid, your estate will pass under the Rules of Intestacy (the Rules). Under the Rules, your assets will be inherited by your spouse and/or close family members, in a strict order.
For example, if you have a spouse and children, your spouse will inherit the first £270,000 of your net estate plus all of your personal possessions. The rest of your estate will be split in half, with your spouse inheriting one half and your children sharing the remaining half equally between them.
This can mean that your children receive substantially less from your estate than your spouse, which might not be what you want. By way of example, if your net estate is worth £390,000 and you have a spouse and three children, your spouse would receive £330,000, made up of the first £270,000 plus half of the remaining £120,000, ie. £60,000. Your three children would share the remaining £60,000 equally, receiving £20,000 each.
How To Ensure Your Children Are Provided For After Remarriage
Making a Will means you can ensure that your children are provided for in the way that you wish after your death. This can be particularly important if they are children from a previous relationship. This is because there is a risk that, if you leave all of your estate to a new spouse, they could then leave it to the beneficiaries of their choice, which might not be your children. There is also a chance that your assets could ultimately be used to pay their care home fees or lost, for example, in a bad investment or bankruptcy.
Your Will can prevent this from happening by leaving your spouse a life interest in your assets. This means that they will be able to have the benefit of a property or other asset during their lifetime, but once they no longer need it, for example, after they move out of a property, it will pass to your children.
Making A Will
It is always recommended that you have a valid Will in place and if you will be getting married, you can make a Will in contemplation of your marriage.
By ensuring you have a Will, you can not only leave your assets to your choice of beneficiary, you can also make sure that your estate is structured in the most tax-efficient way possible. A Will can also help avoid disputes arising among family members after your death.
It is recommended that you review a Will around once every five years and also in the event of any major life events, such as the birth of a child or if anyone you have appointed in your Will or left money to should die before you.