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How Does Marriage Affect your Will?

View profile for Claire Clarke
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With the lifting of Covid restrictions this year is likely to be a bumper one for weddings.

Whilst couples enjoy planning their nuptials, they often overlook one of the most important considerations when entering a marriage – what will happen to their estate once they are married.

There are two common misconceptions:

1. Even if I haven’t got a will, my spouse will inherit everything on my death. 

The rules of intestacy (which apply if you do not have a will) are not that straightforward.  If the deceased spouse has children, a surviving spouse will only inherit the first £270,000 of the estate and the personal possessions.  Thereafter, the surviving spouse receives half of the balance of the estate and the children share the other half. This is a very simplified summary of the position and the estate will only comprise assets held by the deceased spouse either in their sole name or as a tenant-in-common.  Any joint assets held with the surviving spouse as a joint tenant will pass to the survivor.  It is always therefore better to seek advice about the full implications of intestacy and ensure wills are in place to cover your individual circumstances, especially if you have minor children and the appointment of trustees/guardians should be considered. 

2. I am already covered, as I have a will in place already.

Unless you have written provision in your existing will to state it was made in contemplation of your marriage, your marriage will revoke any existing will you have in place and the rules of intestacy will apply.  It is therefore crucial you consider the implications.  This is particularly important where there is a second marriage and/or there are children from previous relationships that you wish to benefit from your estate.

So, whilst not terribly romantic, remembering to review your existing arrangements to ensure you have effective wills in place, is important to ensure your new spouse and your family are protected.

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