Emmersons Solicitors - Newcastle and Sunderland
Jacqueline Emmerson
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You may have noticed a lot of press coverage recently about the need to make a will. That is because the law relating to intestacy and inheritance has changed. This is the biggest change in most people’s lifetime. However, the changes only affect you if you don’t have a will.

Why is this relevant to you?
Let’s assume you are married and you have children from a previous relationship. If you have not made a will then your spouse or Civil Partner will inherit the first £250,000 of your estate and half of the remainder above that figure. Your children, and that includes adult children, will only receive half of everything above £250,000.

Consider the case of Amy and Paul. Amy has children from her first marriage; Emma aged 8 and Jess aged 15. Jess is looking forward to going to university and Amy has said that there is enough by way of savings so that Jess will not have to take out a student loan.

When Amy and her husband divorced, Amy received the matrimonial home worth £250,000 free of mortgage. She also received £100,000 cash. Amy and Paul married last year. Amy insisted on keeping her home in her sole name as she thought this would protect her from any claim that Paul may have over the house.

However, Amy does not have a will. Let’s hope that she is not run over by a bus tomorrow! If Amy dies suddenly then Paul will automatically inherit the whole house together with £50,000 worth of savings. Thus Amy’s daughters will receive only £25,000 each from her estate. Amy has only known Paul for eighteen months and yet he will inherit the bulk of her estate.

If this sounds like your family situation how can you protect your children?

At Emmersons Solicitors we will discuss your family situation with you; we will help you to make the right choices so that you can provide for your spouse/civil partner and your children.

By the way, Paul has £800,000 of savings having sold his own home. How do you think Jess would feel if her new step father inherited monies that should have been used for her university education?

Many of Emmersons clients are separated but not divorced. Therefore they are still married as far as inheritance laws are concerned. Imagine your spouse has run off with a younger, or older, model. You refuse to allow a divorce as you are not going to help them to make their new life easier. Great, you have control of the situation for a few years. Well how would you feel knowing that if you died without a will and you had no children, your ‘ex’ would inherit your whole estate? Really, it’s enough to put you off dying!

So how can you avoid this unhappy situation?
Exclude your partner and MAKE A WILL.

If you are living with someone and not married you may think the law protects you as you are Common Law husband and wife. There is no such thing under English law.

Jenny had lived with John for over twenty years. She lived in his house and she worked long hours in a business that he had set up. The couple would talk about our home and our business. John did not have a will, when he suddenly died Jenny was left in shock. However, worse was to follow; John’s children turned up at Jenny’s home the day after the funeral and advised her that the house would have to be sold and that they were taking over the business. After all, this was their inheritance.

Jenny had to borrow money from her family to fight for a share of John’s estate. It took two years and thousands of pounds before she was awarded a part-share of John’s estate. Jenny had to prove to the court that she had a financial dependency upon John. She did however, lose her home and the business. This could all have been avoided if John had made a will.

So again my advice would be - MAKE A WILL.

You should make an appointment to see a solicitor next week; it may be too late next year.

If you wish to discuss your will contact Wills and Probate at Emmersons Solicitors.

Newcastle:   0191 284 6989
Sunderland: 0191 567 6667

Author: Jacqueline Emmerson
Collaborative Family Lawyer

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