It is an inevitable fact that not all marriages survive. Some breakdown quickly, some after many years. Some couples separate and never divorce. Some couples divorce and remarry and some never remarry. Whatever your circumstances divorce has an impact on family life but also on your wills.
When married couples separate they remain married for the purposes of their wills until the decree absolute is issued. Until this time a soon to be ex can still benefit from a will. It is sensible upon separation for both parties make a new will to exclude the soon to be ex from benefitting from their estate. Ultimately the financial settlement in the divorce will determine who has what asset.
Once a divorce has been finalised the will can be reviewed in light of the financial settlement and resigned or updated as necessary.
If you enter into a new relationship or get married for a second, third or fourth time you need to keep your will under review. With second, third and fourth marriages usually comes children from different parents, assets from different parties and life can get much more complicated. If you are entering into a new relationship a will is really important as it can protect assets for children whilst looking after a new spouse, help with inheritance tax planning and focus minds on whether a prenuptial agreement is worth considering.
it is really important that with these more complex circumstances, advice is sought to ensure that your assets pass to those you wish.
So, shall we start to look at the things you need to think about when making a will?
Executors: you need to think about the people you trust enough to manage the responsibility of your estate following your death. Are they over eighteen? Can they deal with money management? Will they disagree with your other executors? Could there be a conflict of interest? An executor has to identify the assets and liabilities in the estate, calculate the total estate and work out whether it is subject to Inheritance Tax. They need to complete Inheritance Tax paperwork and swear statements for the Probate Registry. Once all this has been done they then need to close the assets, pay the bills and distribute the estate.
Funeral wishes: a will is an ideal place to record your funeral wishes. You can go as far as you like with instructions or you can keep it brief. You would be surprised at some of the things that people want to do!
Guardians: this is probably more important for people with children under the age of eighteen. Your guardians will be the individuals you want your children to live with in the event that both of their parents have died. Do you want your new spouse to act as a guardian of minor children? How would this affect your ex?
Gifts: Do you want to make any monetary gifts or gifts of specific items. These are often made to charities, close family and important friends. Do you have any close family members from your first marriage that are still important to you?
Residue: This is what is left once everything has been paid and any gifts have been made. This is the pot you get to divide between those who are important. Who do you want to receive money and when? Do you want to make sure that the assets your bring to the relationship pass to your children? Do you want them to go to your new spouse? How do you protect your assets so that your children end up with them ultimately when your new spouse no longer needs them? Was your divorce a full and final settlement divorce which ensured your ex cannot claim against your estate on death?
When you look at making a will your wishes are of the utmost importance. However, you do also need to consider the impact of Inheritance Tax and care fees on your wishes as these can significantly alter what you have left to give.