What should I consider in my Will if I am part of an unmarried couple?

You like many people, might not realise that there is no such thing as a common law spouse. The laws around inheritance can seem outdated in many areas and don’t recognise modern family structures and living arrangements. If you’re in a long-term relationship, but not married or in a civil partnership, making a will is particularly important. If you don’t write a will your partner could end up inheriting nothing when you die. Instead your estate would be distributed according to the rules of intestacy which in some circumstances could see a long lost relative inheriting your home and finances, not the person you’ve been sharing your life with. Things to consider The only way you can be certain your partner will be able to inherit from your estate when you die is to include them in your will. Once you’ve included them, the only way you remove them is to re-write or change your will. Unlike married partners, they will not automatically be disinherited if you decide to break up in the future. Find out more in our ‘Changing and updating your will’ article. It is also worth bearing in mind that unlike married couples, anything you leave to your partner will use up your inheritance tax (IHT) allowance of £325,000. Estates left to spouses or civil partners are free from IHT liability (without limit) and can even inherit any unused IHT allowance. Find out more in our ‘inheritance tax rules’ article. As you make your Affio will, we’ll help you identify who the key people are in your life and give you all the information you need...

Getting remarried and your will

If you get remarried any will you have made previously is revoked by the marriage. This will mean you no longer have a will and if you were to die your estate would be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. Find out more in our ‘Rules of intestacy’ article. However, the will won’t be revoked if it states you are about to marry a particular person and you don’t want the the will to be revoked when that happens. If you want to make a will before your remarriage and want it to continue afterwards, there is a clause we can include to ensure this happens. We can also deal with any other bequests you want to make at that time. Find out more in our ‘Making a will if you’re getting married’ article. Your children’s rights Your children’s rights will be completely unaffected provided that you make a will before the remarriage making clear that it isn’t revoked by that marriage. Alternatively you could make a new will after the remarriage. If you don’t make a new will, any existing will you have will be revoked upon your marriage, meaning the rules of intestacy would then apply if you were to die. This would mean your new spouse would get the first £250,000 of your estate and all your possessions, no matter what their value is. The remainder will then get split equally between your spouse and your children. Providing for your children and new spouse in your will Who you choose to leave your estate to (or you choose to include or leave out) is entirely...

What should I consider changing in my Will if I get divorced?

If you’ve already got a will and you’re planning to get divorced, now could be a good time to review it and if needed write a new one. Will your will still be valid? When you get divorced your will is still valid. However, any provisions you’d made in your will to leave your estate to your spouse or for them to be an executor will be ineffective from the day your marriage ends, unless the will says otherwise. It’s also worth bearing in mind that until your divorce is finalised, your spouse will still be entitled to inherit as per the instructions in your existing will – unless you change them. The same is true of civil partnerships. Things you may want to consider reviewing in your will if you get divorced: Who your beneficiaries are. If a large amount of your estate was previously going to be left to your ex-spouse, they’re no longer being included in your will could mean you want to re-jig things a little. Who your executors are. It is always a good idea to have more than one executor, so if your former spouse was previously appointed in this role, you may want to consider someone else as a replacement for them. Find out more in our ‘Who to appoint as your executors’ article. Your inheritance tax liability. By previously being able to leave all or part of your estate to your spouse or civil partner, anything you left them would have been free of inheritance liability (IHT), with no limit. Your estate will now use your IHT allowance of £325,000 (unless...

Is my Will still valid after a divorce?

Yes, your will should still be valid. However, if your ex-spouse or civil partner was appointed as an executor of the will or if they were to inherit property from you, they will be treated as though they had died on the day your marriage or civil partnership ended. The practical consequence is that they cannot act as executor and they do not inherit. Although your will is still valid, getting divorced could be a the perfect time to review it, especially if you had previously planned to leave a large amount of your estate to your ex-spouse or civil partner. There may be a number of other arrangements in your will which may benefit from being updated at this time too, such as considering how no longer being married could affect your inheritance tax liability, your executors and of course, your beneficiaries. Find out more in our ‘Getting divorced and your will’ article. Back to the knowledge...

What if someone in my will dies before I do?

Unfortunately it does happen. Quite often you make your will years in advance of actually needing it and a lot can change during that time. So, if someone dies who you’ve named as a beneficiary in your will, what will happen? You have three options: Change your will – if someone dies you could amend your will or write a new one to reflect that change. We recommend you review your will on a regular basis anyway to see if any changes need to be made. With an Affio will you can specify what you would like to happen to any gifts intended for someone who has died – perhaps choosing that they go to their children instead or added to residue of your will. Do nothing – if you don’t specify a substitute in your will, then by default the failed gift will automatically be returned to the residue of your estate. As you write your will with us we’ll give you the options available to you at each and every stage, including nominating substitute beneficiaries, if that’s what you want to do. With us, it really is easy to get a will which suits you and your circumstances perfectly. Back to the knowledge...

Who do I need to provide for in my will?

It is essentially up to you who you decide to leave an inheritance to in your will – there are no rules about who you must include. But before you decide to leave someone out you might want to consider the impact this will have after you’ve gone. If someone is excluded If you choose to exclude (or neglect to include) someone who is dependant on you financially they may be able to challenge your will in court. Find out more in our ‘When can your will be challenged in court’ article. A challenge to your will can be expensive and time consuming. It can also cause problems in relationships between your close friends and family, costs to your estate and no end of stress for your executors. It is always worthwhile thinking hard before cutting someone out who may have thought they had a reasonable expectation of inheriting something, just to save the heartache that will undoubtedly be caused after you’ve gone. When you write your will with us we’ll help you identify who the key people and those who are dependent on you are, so you won’t inadvertently cut someone out, but it is completely up to you who you include. Back to the knowledge...