Is a Will needed if you are married?
This is a question we often hear, with many people assuming that, if they pass away, their entire estate will simply pass straight to their husband or wife with no problems. While this may be the case in some circumstances, it is often much more complicated and failing to make a proper Will or update your existing Will when you get married can cause a number of issues if you predecease your spouse.
It is important to be aware that when you marry any will you currently have will be revoked (unless that will is made expressly ‘in anticipation of marriage’). Unless you subsequently make a will you are therefore intestate and the Intestacy Rules dictate how your estate will be divided. Your spouse will generally stand to inherit all or most of your estate, but depending on the size of your estate, any children you have may also stand to inherit part of your estate.
All of these issues can make dealing with your estate much more difficult for your loved ones when you pass away and has the potential to cause a lot of disagreements. Making sure that you have a valid, up-to-date Will can therefore help to ensure your estate is divided according to your wishes, give you peace of mind from knowing your loved ones will be looked after and help to avoid unnecessary conflict between the people you care about.
Our Will writing solicitors in Oxford and Wallingford can make updating your Will as simple and stress-free as possible. We can advise you on all of the ways being married could impact what happens to your estate after you pass away and ensure your Will takes these issues into account.
Our Will writing services for people getting married
Our Will writing solicitors can help you consider the various issues that typically need to be accounted for when you get married, including:
- What happens to your shared home if you pass away before your spouse
- Protecting the inheritance of any children from a previous relationship
- Handling pension entitlements
- Deciding who should be the Executor of your estate
We can advise you on all of these matters and help you create a fair, legally robust Will that provides for your various loved ones and minimises the likelihood of any legal issues.
Granting a life interest in a property
One common issue is that many people who get remarried want to leave their home to their children from a previous relationship, but don’t want their new spouse to be kicked out of their home when they pass away.
Granting your spouse a life interest in your home means that they can stay there for as long as they like if you predecease them, but when your spouse passes away or chooses to leave the property, you children will still get their inheritance.
Married couples sometimes choose to create ‘mirror Wills’, which are essentially the same but modified to reflect which spouse each of the two versions is for. So, for example, a husband’s Will might state that his entire estate should pass to his wife in the event of his death, and wife’s everything should pass to her husband in the event of her death.
While making mirror Wills are usually cheaper than writing two entirely separate Wills, they can sometimes cause unforeseen issues, so it is important to discuss this with a member of our team before deciding to go ahead.
Common questions about making a new Will when getting married
Who inherits if you are married and don’t have a Will?
If you do not have children, grandchildren or other direct descendants, your spouse will usually inherit your entire estate.
If you do have children or other direct descendants, who inherits will depend on the value of your estate.
If your estate is worth £250,000 or less, your spouse will inherit your entire estate.
If your estate is worth more than £250,000, you spouse will inherit the first £250,000 of your estate and 50% of the estate’s remaining value. The other 50% of the estate’s value (excluding the first £250,000) will be split between your children.
If any of your children have predeceased you, any children or other direct descendants they had can inherit their share.
How much does it cost to make a new Will?
The cost of making or updating your Will depends on the circumstances, including how complex your estate is and any specific issues you may need addressed. We are usually able to offer a fixed-fee Will writing service for straightforward Wills, while more complicated issues may need to be dealt with on the basis of a pre-agreed hourly rate.
Please get in touch to find out more about the cost of making a Will.
Should you get a pre-nuptial agreement when getting married?
Pre-nuptial agreements are no longer just for the super-rich and celebrities. Many ordinary couples now choose to create a pre-nup when getting married to help simplify matters if their marriage ends in divorce. This is something it can be well worth considering alongside making or updating your Will.
Find out more about pre-nuptial agreements and post-nuptial agreements.
Can you write a husband or wife out of a Will?
Yes, you can leave your estate to whoever you like, meaning you can omit your spouse from your Will if you choose. However, if your spouse is financially dependent on you and you exclude them from their Will, they may be able to make a claim against your estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
The Inheritance Act can allow spouses and other dependants to claim for ‘reasonable provision’ from your estate, meaning they can claim with respect to any financial or other support you habitually provided to them. It is therefore important to consider this when making your Will to avoid the risk of unnecessary conflict between your dependants and any other beneficiaries of your Will after you are gone.
Does marriage make a Will invalid?
No, if you have an existing Will it will generally still be considered valid if you get married. It is therefore important to bear this in mind and create a new Will where appropriate.
Do you need to change your Will if you get divorced?
Most people will want to update their Will on getting divorced to ensure their Will reflects their new circumstances. If you fail to do so, your ex-partner could end up inheriting all or much of your estate if you pass away, something which you very likely would not intend to happen.
Why choose Hedges Law for updating your Will?
Our Will writing solicitors have many years of experience helping people to get the right Will in place for their circumstances. We can help clear up any uncertainty over your legal position and that of your loved ones when it comes to inheritance issues, giving you complete peace of mind that everything has been properly planned for.
We can also offer the expert knowledge and skills of our Family Law team, who can advise on issues such as pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, divorce and other family law matters which could affect your estate and loved ones.
With two local offices in Oxford and Wallingford, we offer a highly convenient Will writing service for people in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and the surrounding area, while our leading expertise also makes us a popular choice with clients from further afield.
Hedges Law is independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).