If a parent marries a new partner, there is a risk that existing children could miss out on their inheritance.
Marriage automatically revokes any Will, unless it was specifically made in contemplation of marriage, mentioning the new spouse by name.
This means that if someone with children gets married, they should always consider making a Will.
Jointly owned assets
Houses are often jointly owned and where ownership is a ‘joint tenancy’, the deceased’s share will automatically pass to the survivor, independently of any Will or intestacy.
To leave a share in a house to someone else, ownership needs to be as ‘tenants in common’.
Bank accounts that are held jointly will also pass automatically to the other holder on the death of the first.
The remaining assets form part of the deceased’s estate.
What happens to assets where no Will is made?
If someone dies without a Will then the Rules of Intestacy apply. These state that the first £250,000 in the deceased’s estate plus all personal possessions are left to the spouse.
The remaining money is split so that the spouse receives 50% and any children of the deceased share equally in the other 50%.
So if an estate is worth £290,000 and no Will was made, the spouse will receive £270,000 and if there are two children they will each receive £10,000.
What can be done if relatives feel unfairly left out of an inheritance?
It is possible to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 if you believe that your relative should have made reasonable financial provision for you.
Those who may have a claim are as follows:
- The deceased’s spouse or civil partner
- The deceased’s former spouse or civil partner where they have not remarried
- Anyone living in the same house as the deceased for the two years prior to death
- A child of the deceased
- Anyone treated as a child of the family by the deceased, for example a stepchild
- Anyone to whom the deceased was providing financial support
There are strict time restrictions on making a claim, so if you believe you may be entitled to financial provision you should seek advice as soon as possible.