Families are changing beyond the traditional structure, with needs becoming ever more complex as constructs change and families grow. One example of this is when people remarry, sometimes becoming what is known as a "blended family". These issues can add complexity to estate planning and ensuring control over the passing of wealth.

Everyone should consider putting a will in place to take control of who will inherit your estate when you die and who will be in charge of making sure that happens. 

For those on their second or subsequent marriages, there is a bit more to think about. What if you die and leave all of your assets to your spouse? There is a risk that your surviving spouse may later remarry. Your surviving spouse may in their will leave the assets they inherited from you to their own children but not to yours. Asset protection against this can be built into your will, giving your spouse access to your assets but you keep control of their ultimate destination.

The effect of second marriages on legal rights and succession

Thought might also be had to legal rights. These are the rights of your children and your spouse to make a claim on your estate, regardless of the terms of your will. Legal rights cut across the will. They are an entitlement and have to be paid out of your will if claimed. Legal rights can and often are given up by children when their surviving parent is inheriting the whole estate as they know they will eventually inherit it all when their second parent died. This may create issues however where with a second marriage you leave assets to your child's step-parent before your child. Much planning can be done on legal rights if required. 

Second marriages: Protecting your pension

Pensions are usually not covered by your will and require separate thought and documents. If your pension goes to your spouse it might be they can then leave the pension to their children but not to yours. You may wish to leave your pension to a family trust which can benefit your spouse but you control the ultimate destination to your own children when your spouse later dies.

Inheritance tax

If you have been previously widowed then you may have inherited that spouse's nil rate band and main residence nil rate band for inheritance tax (IHT). That extra allowance is lost unless you put bespoke wording in your will to capture it.

For those on their second or subsequent marriages, there is a bit more to think about, but there is much planning you can do to make sure you have control over what goes to whom.


Leigh Gould