Marrying off your parents – the pros and cons!
Written by Cindy-Marie Leicester on July 14, 2015.
When an elderly, widowed parent remarries it can mean a new lease of life for the entire family. A parent finding a new significant other to share the sunset of life can be reassuring for the children on both sides of the happy couple however having a new extended family means that things are not always quite so rose-tinted when it comes to legacy distribution.
Often leaving the entire estate to the new spouse is good way to leverage tax relief on the second death. However, it can mean that any intentions to benefit previous family is swept away in the tide of savings, with the second spouse having no requirement to provide for family extended beyond their own. This situation can mean that accumulated family inheritances are lost, including precious heirlooms and even property, often resulting in bitter feuds.
Similarly, not creating a new will when circumstances in life change can result in equally traumatic situations. An out-of-date will which names already deceased beneficiaries, may be deemed to be no will at all, in which case the law will step in. This could mean that valuable family assets are left to remote relatives from previous marriages or to the proverbial black sheep, with no chance of a variation to right the will.
Disputes over wills are soaring. Figures from law firm Hugh James show that 861 inheritance cases were heard in the High Court in 2013, compared with 490 in 2012 - a 76% increase. With complicated families becoming more common, life expectancy increasing and house prices soaring, beneficiaries who may have become overnight millionaires can now find themselves battling with half-siblings or stepsiblings and discovering family all over the globe with a claim to a previously secure inheritance.
This demonstrates exactly why a will is not something that should be written once and then forgotten. Solicitors typically recommend that you revisit your will at least every five years but also whenever a significant event in your life occurs that could affect it, for example, when you have children, if someone named in the will dies, or if you divorce, separate or get married. And you need to communicate your intentions to your loved ones, no matter how uncomfortable that conversation may be. Although if it is you that is remarrying, it may be best to leave it until after the honeymoon!