I’m Married. Do I really need a will?
This is a question which we are often asked by married clients and the short answer is, usually, YES.
The main reason why is the law of intestacy and its impact on various aspects of your estate/family situation, along with a few other reasons which are listed below:
1. Intestacy rules and couples with no children
Do you want people other than your spouse to benefit from your estate?
Under intestacy rules, the surviving spouse of a couple with no children, takes their deceased’s spouse’s full estate. So, if you have no children and it is your intention that your spouse inherits your full estate then this is the exception to our usual advice that you do need a will. However, if you would wish for other people to also benefit from your estate, then you do need a will.
Furthermore, you also need to make provision from your estate if your spouse died before you.
2. Intestacy rules and couples with children
Do you want your spouse to take your whole estate in the first instance?
If you have children and an estate worth over £250,000 then, the surviving spouse would take the first £250,000 and only half of the remainder which is shared with the children. So, if it is your intention that your spouse should take your full estate, dying intestate would not achieve your objectives.
3. Intestacy rules and step-children/children from a previous marriage
If you have step-children and/or your own children from your previous marriage, the law of intestacy would not make full provision for them in the way which you may have wished for. This is invariably not what a couple with children from previous relationships would wish to happen. Having a professionally drafted will in this type of situation would not only protect all your loved ones but also, potentially save future stress and even litigation over your estate.
4. If your Will was made before you got married, marriage will have invalidated your Will.
5. Ensuring the right people look after your minor children should both parents die
By making a will you, as the parents, are best suited to decide who should look after your children and manage their inheritance whilst they are minors. If you die without a will, the Court could appoint this person for you.
6. Vulnerable family members
If one of your children or even your spouse suffers from a disability or you have any concerns as to how they use the inheritance they receive, you may wish for someone else to manage their share of your estate. You could create a trust in your will ensuring that your wishes are complied with after you die. Without a will in this situation your vulnerable family members would receive their gift outright and it may not be used in the way you would have wished.
Should you need more information, please contact our friendly in-house experts Paul Solomons or Alex Livesey who are always happy to help.