Family structures are complex in the 21st century. Increases in second marriages over the past decade has led to more blended families and testators having to consider stepchildren.
Whereas people marrying for the first time have fallen from 176 thousand marriages in 2012 to 159 thousand in 2017, remarriages have held firm at a five year average of 37 thousand up to 2017, the most recent figures available, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
As more people cohabitate and blend their families, what do people need to consider when making a Will?
What to consider when writing a Will involving stepchildren
It is important to understand that inheritance laws in England and Wales do not automatically recognise stepchildren in intestacy law. This means that if you die without a valid Will your estate will not necessarily be inherited by your stepchildren.
The only way to ensure your express wishes regarding your estate are considered is to write a valid Will.
English and Welsh law offers ‘testamentary freedom’ which allows the testator the right to leave your property and belongings to whomever you choose. If you fail to write a Will, your estate will automatically pass to your spouse and biological children. By writing a valid Will, you are able to specify who will inherit and how much they will receive.
If you are looking to create complete fairness and equality in the amount biological and stepchildren inherit, a Will is crucial.
A valid Will can also avoid contentious probate issues arising after your death. If you die and your property is passed to your children’s stepparent, animosity or concern may develop, but your Will and estate planning considerations can help to pacify any feelings of concern. Afterall, if a Will passes the entirety of an estate to a spouse, then your children may be disinherited after your spouse dies.
Adding a Trust in your Will could allow your spouse the freedom of living in the property whilst also providing certainty that your children are provided for in the future.
Asking a professional to draft a valid Will and Trust has never been so important, especially when living through such uncertain times. Rest assured that the services provided by legalmatters are efficient, easy and individualised to the unique needs of each testator.
Services from legalmatters during lockdown
Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.
Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd. This means that you can deal with your will, power of attorney, trust and tax advice etc all over the phone or by email and documents are sent to you by post. We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.
Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients. If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.
If you would like to speak to one of our expert Wills and Probate lawyers, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.