Q: I am a widower and have met a wonderful lady I would like to marry. I am however worried what may happen if I die before her. Her former husband was a scoundrel and left her with almost nothing, so as my children are grown-up and successful I feel it would be more important to look after her in my Will. I don’t think my children would contest it if I made her the main beneficiary but is there any way of ensuring her protection just in case?
A: Your plight is one being experienced more commonly these days due to an increase in the divorce rate and the number of people entering into second marriages and relationships that bring with them extended families. Unfortunately it more Wills are also being challenged by offspring who expect to inherit and then find out they haven’t. There are time limits for any claim against the estate to be made.
The key is for you to make sure that your intentions are very clear when you make a new Will. So if you want to exclude someone who might otherwise expect to inherit you could explain in your Will why you have made that decision. This is known as making a statement of wishes. Such a statement is recognised by the courts and can therefore avoid any potential dispute and associated legal action being taken.
An alternative is to create a trust within your will allowing your soon to be wife a life interest for the remainder of her lifetime with your children being the ultimate beneficiaries.
Where second families are concerned it is imperative that people take extra care about the drafting of their Will to ensure there can be no question of their intentions. Using a reputable local solicitor to prepare the draft is safest.