It’s important to update your will any time your personal circumstances change – whether you’re having a baby, moving house, or separating from your partner. One situation that is often overlooked is when you enter into a new relationship where one or both of you have children from a previous marriage. In this instance, it’s especially important to amend your will to include any step-kids (presuming you want them to share in your inheritance, of course!) as they will not automatically be covered by intestacy rules unless you have formally adopted them.
Intestacy rules state that spouses, blood relatives and adopted children are able to inherit automatically from someone who has not left behind a will, but this does not include step-children or other members of your new family. And if you already have a will, simply stating that you wish for your assets to be passed onto your children in general will not be enough to include step-children. The best thing to do is get in touch with your family solicitor and either draw up a new will or amend an existing document to clearly include the individuals you wish to leave assets to.
The same rules apply to same sex couples in a civil partnership or unmarried cohabiting couples – unless you have official parental responsibility for your partner’s children, they will not be eligible for automatic inheritance without adding specific instructions in your will.
Stepchildren may be able to challenge a will or make a claim to the court for inheritance if they are left with inadequate financial provision after the death of a step-parent. Alternatively, they can enter into a Deed of Variation which requires the agreement of everyone named in the will to alter its effects. In each case, you will need the guidance and advice of an experienced solicitor to help you negotiate the issues involved.
Settling into a step-family takes time, cooperation and ongoing commitment – one way to cement the changes to your life is to make an official change to your will to include your new family and ensure the security of everyone’s future. For a friendly, no-frills approach to wills and probate law, get in touch with the family lawyers at Frances Lindsay & Co, located in Maidenhead and Beaconsfield.Tags: family lawyer Beaconsfield, family lawyer Maidenhead, making a will, step children, wills and probate