We increasingly use the term "blended family". A blended family is where parents have had children from a previous relationship but all the family members come together as one family unit. If you die without a Will being in place then the rules of intestacy dictate who should inherit. These rules perhaps don't reflect the modern society that we live in today. Under intestacy, the starting point is to presume that a large amount of the estate will go to the surviving spouse and/or surviving children. Step-children are completely ignored. It is possible to put in place a Will that will ensure a more fair distribution of your estate and provide for not just your blood relatives but others too.
It may help if I give you an example. Diane and Andrew got married 10 years ago. It is a second marriage for both of them. Diane has got two children from her first marriage called Matthew and Emily. Andrew has two daughters called Janet and Rachel. If we relied on intestacy then it is a lottery as to who would inherit. It is largely determined by who out of Diane and Andrew dies first. Diane and Andrew decide to put Wills in place so that all four of their children can benefit. Their Will says that when Diane dies her estate (including her half of the family home) will pass into an Asset Protection Trust. Andrew is going to be the main beneficiary. He can live in the family home for as long as he wants to and has access to some income and capital. However, the critical issue is that on Andrew's death (or if Diane was the second of the couple to die) then Diane's estate will be divided equally between Matthew, Emily, Janet and Rachel. Andrew's Will is along the same lines so that if he died first Diane receives a benefit but he has got the peace of mind to know that in the long run all four children will inherit.
It is worth noting that in this particular case Diane and Andrew both brought wealth to the marriage so it felt like the right thing for them as a couple to treat all four of their children equally. If one party had bought more capital assets to the marriage than the other then we could look at how the inheritance will be divided when the second of Diane and Andrew die.
This is complicated and it is not advisable to "have a go" yourself and do a homemade Will. At Wrigleys we are experienced professional advisors and can help you to put a Will in place that "does the right thing" by your loved ones.
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The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors
Article originally published on 12 May 2020
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.