With more and more people marrying for a second, or even a third time, the issue of inheritance becomes even more important to settle sooner rather than later. It matters not whether a second marriage is the result of a divorce or the death of one partner, but it is a concern for many when children are involved. This month we take a look at the complications and potential solutions that come with remarrying when you have children from your first (or second) marriage who you wish to benefit from your assets when you die.
Basic inheritance rules
This is a topic that we have explored before, but in brief when a spouse dies the surviving spouse is entitled to the first £250,000 of all assets, assuming there is no will in place and there are children, and whatever has been bequeathed to them where there is. This means that, if you have separated but not yet divorced, your assets become your ex-spouse’s assets and if they were then to remarry they will then form part of their potential inheritance on their death.
What’s yours doesn’t have to be theirs
Let’s assume you have children and that you wish for your assets – a home, a car, jewellery, or other valuables – to be passed on to them in the event of your death, but that you and your spouse are no longer together. Your ex-spouse wishes to remarry, making any will that was in place null and void. They may have children with their new partner, or the new partner may have children of their own who are now part of your ex’s new family. If your ex passes away any assets that had been passed on to them from you could be lumped together to be passed on to all the children. The same applies where one partner has died and the surviving spouse goes on to remarry.
Is there a way of preventing that from happening? Is it possible to ring-fence your share of the assets for your children alone?
Trusts and wills and how they can help
Following a divorce or death of a spouse, a new will is necessary to replace the one that is no longer valid. You need to consider how you wish your assets to be allocated, as if either of your remarries then your assets will pass on to your new spouse or the surviving spouse if no explicit will is in place. This can be a tricky area and seeking a specialist’s advice can help you get it right.
One option is to set up a trust. This will clearly set out which assets you wish to be passed on to your children while still caring for your surviving spouse, but without compromising the assets you wish to leave to your children should they remarry.
Wills can be a complex area of the law to navigate, but it is worth getting it right now before things become too complicated or it is too late. To help protect and provide for your loved ones, talk to one of our specialists at Probate London today about your options or if you need any help with probate issues.