Wills and Your Relationship Status

Wills and Your Relationship Status

Married couples

Never assume that because you are married or in a civil partnership that all of your estate will automatically pass to your spouse or partner. In order to ensure that your estate passes to exactly the people who you wish it to, you must write a will. Otherwise the law of intestacy will apply, which could bring in other beneficiaries such as parents, children, brothers and sisters.

If you or your partner have been married before there may be children from a previous marriage or current joint children that need to be considered separately, and special provisions included for their protection. Otherwise it is simple for any surviving spouse to change their will following your death which may disinherit children of yours from a previous relationship, or indeed favour children from a future relationship. In your will you can also name those who you wish to be guardians of any children of yours who are still under 18 at the date of your death. Otherwise this very important decision could end up being made by the courts.


If you are in a partnership without a will your position could be very unstable. If one member of the partnership were to die without a will, the other partner may well receive nothing under the law of intestacy.

You must also remember that everything above the tax free band (currently £325,000) is taxable at 40 per cent. whereas married couples enjoy a complete tax exemption on the first death and then the benefit of two tax free bands (£650,000) on the second death. In these cases, there are ways of drafting a will which can protect the tax free band so that there are still two tax free bands available on the death of the survivor.

If you have joint children, the mother in her will should name the father as guardian in the first instance as he may not have automatic “parental responsibility”, which could mean an application to court becomes necessary for guardianship of his own children.

Similarly to married couples, if there are children from a previous relationship, they need to be protected with a will, just as the children from the current relationship need protection.

Single people

Even if you are single, the only way to ensure that your assets pass to those who you want them to, is with a will. Having a will also makes estate administration more straightforward at a time which is naturally difficult for those you leave behind.

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