If you have a Will, it is usually the case that getting married will make it invalid. The exception is when a Will has specifically been made in contemplation of marriage.
Having a valid Will in place means you can pass your estate on to your choice of beneficiaries in the way that you want. It is also an opportunity to make sure that your affairs are structured in the most efficient way possible.
Without a Will, everything you own will pass under the Rules of Intestacy. These set out who will inherit in strict order of priority. For example, if you are married and you have children, your spouse will inherit the first £270,000 of your net estate along with your personal possessions. The remainder of your estate will be divided into two equal shares. Your spouse will inherit one share and your children will split the other equally between them. This may mean that your children will inherit considerably less than you wanted them to.
A Will made in contemplation of marriage
If you marry or enter into a civil partnership, any Will you already have in place automatically becomes invalid unless it was made in contemplation of the marriage.
To remain valid after your marriage, your Will needs to comply with certain rules, including:
- The Will must state that you are intending to marry and that you intend that your Will should not be revoked by this marriage
- The person that you are intending to marry must be named
- The marriage should take place within a relatively short period of time after the Will is made. The acceptable length of time is not defined in legislation, but cannot, for example, be many years
Why is a Will important on marriage?
It is always recommended that you review your Will in the light of any major life changes such as marriage or civil partnership. It is particularly important to ensure you have a valid Will in place if you have children from a former relationship or you will be entering a blended family.
A Will allows you to prevent your wealth from passing away from your family. By way of example, if you were to leave everything to your spouse with the understanding that they in turn would leave your share to your children, there is nothing to stop them later changing their mind.
They could decide to leave everything to someone else or, if the Will was revoked and they died intestate, all of their wealth could pass to a new spouse or to children they have with another partner.
There is also a risk that if everything is left to your spouse, the funds may have to be used to pay for their future care needs. By making a Will, you can leave property to your children but give your spouse a life interest. This means that they could carry on living in your shared home but the value of your share would not be included in any calculations for means-tested care fees.
Once they no longer needed your shared home, your interest would pass to your choice of beneficiaries, which could be your children.
Making a Will
Having a Will can give you peace of mind for the future. You can ensure that your estate is dealt with as efficiently as possible and that you have the right provisions in place for your loved ones. You also have the option to leave money to charities that are close to your heart.
It is important to review your Will every five years or so as well as in circumstances such as marriage or the birth of a child or grandchild.
If you would like to speak to one of our expert estate planners, ring us on 01634 353 658 or email us at [email protected]