Writing a Will After a Second Marriage to Protect Your Children & Estate

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If you have written a will or you are planning on making your own last will and testament to protect your family and your estate, it is extremely important to know that when you marry or remarry, it will become null and void, meaning that should you pass away without having made a new will, your assets will be distributed according to UK law and the rules of intestacy - which is unlikely to be what you intended.

For this reason, it is vital that you make a new will after marriage or after remarrying to make sure that your children receive the inheritance you want them to and your hard-earned assets are shared out in line with your personal wishes.

In our guide below, we explain more about marriage and inheritance laws in the UK (as well as second marriages) so you know exactly where you and your loved ones stand legally in the event of your death.

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Is a will valid if you remarry?

Yes, when you get married - for the first or second time - your existing will (if you have one) immediately becomes invalid and you’ll have to write a brand-new will to ensure that any children from your previous and/or existing marriage are well looked after and will inherit a legacy from your estate when you pass away.

If you do not have a will or make a new one, your children from your previous relationship or marriage may not be entitled to receive anything when you die, or perhaps they will receive a very small chunk of inheritance which may not be what you intended. 

This, of course, is likely to result in distress and confusion for your loved ones when the time comes.

Can’t I just amend my existing will?

If you want to make changes to your existing will, you can do so by adding a codicil to it - but codicils are generally for minor changes.

To avoid any disputes or confusion when you die, we highly recommend writing a new will if you have remarried.

Learn more in our guide to Changing a Will to learn more.

Marriage and inheritance laws (UK) - How does remarriage affect inheritance?

Under the UK’s inheritance rules, if you do not have a will in place, your husband, wife or civil partner would legally inherit most or all of your assets automatically in the event of your death, and any children you have from a previous relationship or marriage may end up with nothing.

When you get married, it is crucial to be aware of the following legalities:

  • When you marry, any previous wills you have previously written will be invalidated - unless you included specific statements to avoid this.

  • Your new wife, husband or civil partner will inherit the initial £270,000 of your estate, all personal possessions belonging to the deceased, plus half of anything remaining (or all if there are no children). If you have children, they will receive the second half of the remaining estate (after the first £270,000) and this will be split equally between each child if there is more than one. This will happen unless you have a legally-binding will.

The above intestacy rules apply to any marriage, whether it’s the first, second or third as the spouse is given priority to be the main beneficiary over your children (including those from previous relationships/marriages).

This is why it’s so important to write a new will when you get married (or remarry), especially if you want to make sure your children receive what you want them to when you die and don’t want your spouse to get everything.

Writing a will after second marriage

When you write a will after getting married, you must ensure it is clear and written with care, especially if you have children from a previous relationship.

It is common for married couples to say that they wish to leave all of their assets to the surviving partner, then once the second partner passes away, they wish for their children to receive an equal share of everything. The main problem with this, however, is that you cannot be 100% sure whether or not this will actually happen after your death, because the surviving partner (your spouse) could change their will at any point - or they could even remarry or have more children, for example, so they could end up removing your children from their will, meaning they won’t be entitled to anything.

The surviving partner could also incur more debts after you’re gone, which would result in a lower amount of inheritance for your children.

Due to these potential complications, it is not only vital to write your own will, but it’s important to get a professional will-writing expert to help make sure you do it correctly according to UK law and legal terminology, to make sure that your wishes get carried out when the time comes.

You might also be interested in reading: How does divorce affect your Will?

Protecting your children’s inheritance after marriage with a trust

If you want to make sure that your children inherit some or all of your estate when you pass away, you will need to set up a trust within your will to ensure that your assets are kept separate to your spouse’s, as this will make sure they cannot be given away to anyone else under the surviving partner’s will.

For example, you can set up a trust which entitles your spouse to benefit from your assets during their life (such as your house), but when they pass away, the trust will ensure that your children (or whoever you wish) receives those assets.

Having a trust within your will, allows you to protect both your spouse and your children.

Read our guide for more information on trusts: Setting Up a Legally-Binding Trust Within Your Will.

Get started with online will-writing professionals at Wills.Services

You can see that a marriage, whether it’s your first, second or third, can have a significant impact on your children loved ones and the inheritance they receive when you die, but if you want to write a will to ensure everyone you care about is legally protected, you should make sure you get the help of a professional.

At Wills.Services, our highly trained team is on hand to help make sure the will you have created is legally-binding and that there won’t be any problems when the time comes for the will to be used, and we guarantee that our online service is a much more affordable option than paying for a solicitor to do it for you.

Get started with us today by registering for free, or contact us if you have anything you’d like to discuss with one of our experts.

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