Providing for your kids: blended families and wills

 10 May 2022
Providing for your kids: blended families and wills

The modern family unit is changing, with many more blended families including children from previous relationships and marriages.

Estate planning for blended families

The relationships in your new blended family will inevitably be more involved than in your first family.

This is especially true if you have children from one of more relationships. Your estate planning needs to take into consideration potential provision for all your children AND your new spouse or partner and their children.

Add in issues raised if you have adopted a child or grown your family through surrogacy, and it becomes crucial to make robust plans and record them in your will correctly.

Births, marriages and divorces

The latest ONS stats estimate that in the UK in 2020, there were

  • Over 24.2million opposite-sex married couples
  • 128,500 same sex married couples

Over a quarter of a million people entered into an opposite-sex marriage in 2018.

Just under 118,000 couples divorced in 2019. In previous years, a proportion went on to remarry. In 2018 (the latest figures available from the ONS):

  • 17,500 divorced women married single men
  • 2,300 divorced women married a widower
  • 28,000 divorced women married divorced men

Over 680,000 children were born in 2020, the lowest birth rate since 2002. That’s a lot of potential families spread across marriages, civil partnerships and co-habiting parents.

Caring for all your families

The good news is that those entering into second marriages are much less likely to get divorced again. If you’re approaching retirement, the news gets better. According to Harry Benson of the Marriage Foundation:

“When it comes to marriage, age is everything. Couples who tie the knot later in life are much less likely to divorce over their lifetime than couples who marry at an earlier age.”

Wills and second marriages

If you have an existing will, it does not automatically become invalid if you get divorced. That only happens when you marry again. So, in order to protect children from a first marriage, you will need to change your estate planning and will as soon as possible after the divorce is finalised. (You can change it before then, but sometimes it may be better to wait until the emotions behind your divorce are not driving your estate planning decision.)

When you marry again, you will need to make a new will as any previous will automatically becomes invalid regardless of what it contains. If you then die intestate (without making a new will), the state will decide how your estate is divided.

Avoid a First Wives Club scenario

Much as we’d like to think we’ll always be on good terms with our first spouse, and our children from a first marriage, that may not always be the case. The relationship dynamics within the family may also change, with one child happy to see you remarry and another not.

All this can come to a head at the point when you die. As an article in the Financial Times points out:

“You cannot guarantee that the position between beneficiaries will be the same when you die as it was at the time a will was made, … While it is natural to hope family members will remain on good terms, it is important to protect each beneficiary at what is a difficult time.”

Need to make a new will to look after your blended family?

Call us at Panthera Estate Planning. We’ll talk through your situation in an initial consultation.

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