Last Updated on 4.8.22 by Shelley Bower
Valentine Day is arriving, which hopefully heralds in brightness and joy as daytime lengthens and the sun becomes warmer. Perhaps proposals of marriage have come your way or a commitment to a long term relationship has been made over a romantic, candlelit dinner.
Many people madly in love may be on an emotional high, and possibly not be open to taking a long hard look at what their new relationship or change in relationship may mean to them in the long term, in terms of wealth and pension rights.
Getting married changes the status of a person and once married a spouse become the main person to benefit from their spouse’s estate, should a Will not have been made.
This might be what most people would want, however suppose the ‘newly-weds’ have children from an earlier relationship, one of the couple may have been widowed and acquired wealth through the hard work of his/her deceased spouse. If there is no Will made to provide for the children from the earlier marriage, then they may miss out, if their remaining parent then dies and everything goes to the new spouse, either under the rules of intestacy or through making a simple Will leaving everything to the new spouse, without any consideration for those children.
Likewise a fiancé has no such protection or automatic right to share in their partner’s estate, however long the relationship has lasted, unless a Will is made making provision for him/her.
One trap, people who are getting married can fall into, is to assume that any Will in place will be valid after the marriage has occurred. The act of marriage automatically revokes a Will unless it is stated in the Will that it is made ‘in contemplation of marriage’ and is made reasonably close to the date of the wedding.
All sorts of issues may arise relating to what you may or may not inherit should your partner, whether you are married to him/her or not, die before you.
Just as wedding planners are proving increasingly popular, a consultation with a solicitor to ascertain your rights and to decide what actions need to be taken as a couple to protect one another, and possibly children from a previous relationship and the current one, should be on your to do list at a possibly very exciting and hectic time.