Dealing with a bereavement can be difficult for any family. However, if the family is a blended one, it can be even more of a challenge. Stepchildren, step-grandchildren and step-siblings don’t have the same rights to inherit, so if the deceased hasn’t left a clear and legal will, things can soon get complicated.
All too often, the complications involved with dividing an estate between a blended family leads to problems. If there’s no will to follow, the estate will automatically be divided according to UK law. This can leave some family members with nothing and cause issues that will tear loved ones apart for years to come.
Inheritance rights in the UK
If you fail to leave a valid will, your estate will be divided according to UK intestacy rules when you die. In England and Wales, this means that your surviving spouse will receive the first £250,000 of your estate with the remaining amount spilt 50/50 between your spouse and your children.
If you’ve recently remarried, this means that your new partner will receive the bulk of your estate while your children receive a much small percentage. If your estate is worth less than £250,000, your children could be left with nothing. Even if you’ve created a will in the past that gives your money to your children, your new partner will be entitled to inherit the bulk of your estate if you don’t update the document.
If your spouse died before you, your children or grandchildren will receive all of your estate. However, unless you’ve legally adopted them, any stepchildren or step-grandchildren you have won’t receive anything.
How making a will can avoid family fall-outs
If you’re part of a blended family, updating – or creating – a will is essential. Making a legal and valid will is the only way to ensure your loved ones receive the money or property that you want them to have, whether they’re related to you by blood or not.
Making a will allows you to divide your estate as you see fit. The clearer you make your instructions, the less likely it is that your blended family will fall out after you die. It’s also important to ensure your will is legally binding. This means having the will written in the proper language and having it correctly witnessed.
Make sure you keep your will up to date. Reviewing your will every few years, and after any big life changes, will ensure it remains legally binding following any future marriages or other alterations in your living situation.
No one wants to think of their loved ones falling out after they die. If you want to make life as easy as possible for your nearest and dearest after you’ve gone, get in touch with a member of our expert team and start putting your will together today.