What if… I have children from a previous relationship

Published: 16/09/2014

We know the idea of making a Will isn’t something anyone particularly wants to think about. But we are also aware of the dangerous misconception many people have surrounding their need to make a Will. Many people remain of the assumption that they do not need a Will, that their loved ones will automatically inherit their assets.

This is not always the case and in this series of articles we will look at common situations, where not having a Will can leave loved ones unprotected. In this first piece we’ll look at a couple who both have children from a previous relationship.

With approximately 42% of marriages ending in divorce^ this type of situation is now incredibly commonplace. However, when it comes to inheritance, this family set up can be complicated and put both your partner and your children at risk.

If you pass away without making a Will, your assets are distributed under the Rules of Intestacy. If you are married (or in a civil partnership) and have children, your partner will inherit the first £250,000 and your personal possessions. This means if your estate is worth £250,000 or less, your children will inherit nothing and your spouse or civil partner is under no obligation to give them anything*.

Anything over £250,000 will be then split 50/50 – one half shared equally amongst your children while your partner will receive the interest from the other half for the rest of their life. When they pass away the remaining 50% will then be inherited by your children.*

If you are not married however, your partner will not receive anything regardless of how long you have been together. Instead your children will inherit everything.

This could be particularly dangerous if the house you shared with your partner was solely in your name – they may have to move out or could find themselves locked in a lengthy and expensive legal battle with your children with no guarantee of success. Not exactly the nicest of legacies.

We all like to think that whatever the situation our loved ones would pull together, ensuring assets are inherited as we would have liked. However the only real way to make sure this happens is to make a Will and clearly outline your wishes. If you have children from a previous relationship and do not make a Will you are potentially leaving your loved ones extremely vulnerable.

^Source: Office of National Statistics: Divorces in England and Wales – 2011
*Current position. However changes are planned to be implemented from 1St October 2014

Content correct at time of publication

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