You might ask, how do you write your Will, if you have been married or in a relationship before, and have children?

Some readers may not be aware, that if you have simple “mirror” Wills, leaving everything to each other, there is a real danger that your children may not benefit. Even if your Wills state that on second death, part of the estate goes to your children, what is there to stop the surviving spouse writing a new Will?

When a new couple get together, it is generally helpful if they both have similar assets in terms of value. If a house is purchased by the new couple, it can be owned “tenants in common”, so each partner owns a share. Typically, these shares are often off equal value, although it doesn’t have to be that way. Wills can state that on the first death, the share passes to the children of the deceased partner, but the surviving partner can continue to live in the house as long as required. Often the share belonging to the surviving partner will also go to their own children.

Another variation, on this theme, is where one partner owns the house absolutely, and they leave the house to their own children, with a right to occupy for their partner. As before, when the survivor has finished with the house, it can be sold, and the sale proceeds stay with the owners own family. A disadvantage, for the children, is that they may not see their inheritance for a long time, especially if the surviving partner is younger than their parent.

It is interesting to see how people writing Wills like this seek to prevent the partner from remarrying or cohabiting, while living in the house, although in practice, this may be difficult.

Dealing with such couples over the years, it is interesting to see how their views can alter, especially if the relationship is working out well. They may come to the relationship wanting to leave everything to their own children, but over time there may be a desire to also benefit the step children.

If you are in this position of entering into a new relationship, it is wise to seek legal advice fairly early on. This should leave you better able to spot potential problems well before they arise.