A guide to wills and remarriage

Did you know the most recent ONS government figures on marriage and divorce show that the number of people to remarry in the UK has remained largely the same since 2019? In fact, the number of people to marrying more than once remains quite high. Over 14% of marriages involved both partners remarrying while 17% of newlyweds, a least one of the partners had been previously married. That’s nearly a third of couples (32%) combined where at least one of the partners has been married before.

Amidst all the excitement of a marriage though, one thing that people often forget to revisit or consider is their will. However, if you want anyone other than your current spouse to inherit the majority of your property when you pass away, making a will after remarrying is essential.

Our latest blog provides valuable insights into the realm of marriage and estate planning.

Marriage and inheritance law

Alarmingly, “recent studies reveal that 59% of UK citizens have yet to create a will, with the number rising to 65% among individuals aged 45 to 54” (source: Legal and General)

Yet, by creating a will, you can utilise tax planning strategies to reduce the inheritance tax for your beneficiaries. This includes capitalising on exemptions and reliefs like the nil-rate band, residence nil-rate band, and charitable donations.

This advice is for England and Wales.

A will also gives you control over who inherits according to how your estate is divided up. Without one, assets are distributed according to intestacy rules. Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy. Your spouse will get all of your personal property and the first £270,000.00 of your inheritance. (This will change to £322,000.00 on 28th July 2023) More involved processes are employed to decide how your estate will be allocated when its value reaches £270,000.00. You can read more here on ‘Who inherits if someone dies without a will?’’

What will happen to my will if I remarry?

For anyone with a will then it’s worth noting that getting remarried nullifies the will. To avoid this happening, before marrying, ensure your will contains a clause from your solicitor that interprets the terms as if you are already married. Making a new will soon after getting married though is advised.

Assets and second marriage

Assets involving second or blended families are rarely simple due to the numerous factors that must be considered, such as:

  • The overall wealth of your family
  • Age of any minors involved
  • The age or health of your current spouse or partner
  • Your former partner’s age and health
  • Retirement benefit
  • Other people from whom your children could inherit

This is why we recommend speaking to a legal representative who can guide you through the process.

Can children from a previous marriage contest a will?

The adult children from an earlier marriage may feel betrayed if a will is drafted but does not provide for them, and they may be able to file a claim against the estate for “reasonable provision”.

“Reasonable provision” is the fair financial arrangement left in a will for those who were financially dependent upon the writer.

Can a child be excluded from a will in the UK?

Current inheritance laws would allow your new spouse to inherit all, if not most of your possessions, instead of children from a previous marriage. That is why it is important to make a new will soon after you get married to ensure you are in control of your own inheritance planning.

Who can help me make a will for my second marriage?

Thomas and Thomas Solicitors have a dedicated team who specialise in providing professional legal services for wills and inheritance tax matters, and can work through the estate planning process with you, step-by-step, offering a no-obligation discussion.

With a wealth of experience in handling complex issues related to estate planning, asset protection, and inheritance tax planning, Thomas and Thomas Solicitors are committed to protecting your interests and achieving desired outcomes.