LEGAL & FINANCE: Married Life Has to Have Good Will

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Duckers Business Editor

With the summer wedding season now well under way, West Midlands law firm Challinors has issued a warning to husbands and wives-to-be who either fail to make a will or forget to update their existing one as soon as they have tied the knot.

According to Fiona Debney, partner at Challinors, newly-weds run the risk of leaving their spouse at the mercy of the Government's inheritance laws.

Ms Debney said: "There are several misconceptions around will making and many newly marrieds wrongly believe if they die without having made one, their widow or widower will automatically inherit their estate.

"This is not the case, and the current legal position dictates that they will only be entitled to the first pounds 125,000, together with any personal possessions.

"They will then share half of what is left with any children. If there are no children, the spouse will inherit the first pounds 200,000 and any personal possessions. Of the remaining amount, half goes to the spouse and half to the deceased's parents. If the parents are no longer alive, half goes to surviving brothers and sisters, and if they too are no longer alive, the inheritance is passed to their children.

"Recent research shows that only half the population has a will, and indeed for the 25-44 year-old age group this figure drops to just under a quarter, indicating that many spouses stand to lose out if the unthinkable happens to their loved ones. And even those who have previously made a will and believe they have made their final wishes very clear could also be in the same position, as the act of getting married can make all or part of an existing will invalid or inaccurate. …