Making a will after your spouse or partner has died
Coming to terms with the death of your spouse or partner will take time, but at some point you will need to think about financial and legal issues. Once probate has been obtained and their estate has been settled, you may need to think about whether you should make a will – or amend any existing will. Deborah Adams, Director of Private Client Services at Parnalls Solicitors, explains what you should think about to protect your financial position and to provide for your loved ones on your own passing.
If your partner died without a will or with an out-of-date will, then you may have encountered problems which you would like to prevent for your executors.
If you made your wills together, then your options may be limited by the type of will.
Although not common, if your existing will is a mutual will – made jointly with your spouse or partner – then it is effectively a contract preventing either of you from changing it both before and after death.
If you made mirror wills – separate wills made on virtually identical terms usually leaving your estate to each other when the first of you dies – and you did not include an agreement not to change it, then you are free to change your will.
If in doubt, show your existing will to your solicitor for specialist advice – it may well be that you do not need to make a new will anyway.
Things to think about
When you feel able to think about taking steps to make a new will, consider carefully how you want to divide up your assets and who should inherit your money, property and any specific items. You can also appoint guardians in the will if you have children under 18.
The value of your estate may be substantially more than previously so it might be appropriate to think about how your will can be structured to minimise the amount of inheritance tax payable when you die. There are ways in which your will can be used to do this, for example, through specific gifts or making a will trust, so specialist legal advice is vital.
If your spouse or partner was the main beneficiary or your executor, then you will need to consider who you wish to benefit from your estate and who you trust to manage your affairs. Your will allows you to decide who gets what when you die, whether they are your children, friends and family – or a charity; and you also get to choose your executors to deal with the estate. Without a will, the law dictates who inherits what and who is entitled to administer your estate.
Now that you can make decisions on your own you might wish to do something different with your will, something which your spouse may not have supported. For example, you may take the view that your children have made more than enough money and wish to leave your entire estate or a significant portion to a charity.
If your late spouse had children, it is wise to take their needs and circumstances into account. For instance, if stepchildren are financially dependent on you it is important to consider whether you should make provision for them in your will, otherwise there could be the risk of a legal claim against your estate.
More haste less speed
Unless you are very ill, or there is another reason why you need to make a will urgently, take care not to act too speedily.
To make a will, it is necessary to be of sound mind and have what is called ‘testamentary capacity’. So, if you are still suffering deeply because of your grief it is best to delay making a new will, otherwise the will might be challenged after your death and could be deemed invalid on the basis that you lacked the necessary mental capacity
Take care also if someone tries to pressurise you into making a new will, including terms to their own benefit or excluding other family members.
It is important to discuss such issues with your solicitor, particularly if you are suffering acute grief, are worried about undue influence, or wish to make arrangements which might be unpopular.
You can amend your will as often as you like, so keep your new will under review, particularly if your financial or personal circumstances change. Remember, if you remarry or enter into a civil partnership, any existing will is automatically revoked and is no longer valid so you will then need to consider making another will.
For further information, please contact Deborah Adams, Director of Private Client Services at Parnalls Solicitors on 01566 772375 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.
The Need for Updating Wills
The Right to Make Noise
Ill-health pension transfer not liable for IHT
Legal Time Limits - why so important?
Would you pay a premium for a south-facing garden?
Video-witnessed wills to be made legal
New Planning Relaxation Is Not the Whole Storey
How to minimise delays in obtaining Grant of Probate
Could you benefit from the Green Homes Grant?
A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM: new electrical safety regulations for residential tenancies
Property of Cornish residents who die without a will goes to Prince Charles
Does your lawyer progress your accident claim efficiently and provide you with a personal and professional service? Can i change solicitors for my accident claim?
What effect could the new changes to stamp duty have on property sales?
Preparing to sell your Launceston property
Staying safer in video meetings
Making Sure Your Great New Home Comes With Clean Air
Property Market Re-Opens in England
Coronavirus: Wills and Powers of Attorney FAQ
Medical Care Received Not Up to Scratch?
Had an Accident in Someone's Home?
Accident or Injury Involving a Dog?
Social Distancing No Obstacle for Parnall's Mobile Document Signing Team
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Commercial Property Legal FAQs
Rent Charge Suspensions: Protecting Your Interests
Been Asked to Sign an Employment Settlement Agreement? Seek Advice Urgently...
Services Update: Continuity of Legal Service Provision
Advising You in Uncertain Times
Could carelessness on social media land you in court?
Is an electronic signature on a commercial property document acceptable?
What happens when there is no health & care LPA in place
Social Media Training for Businesses
Information to gather for your probate solicitor
Gazundering, what it is and how to avoid it
Relief from forfeiture – what happens if the tenant forgets to pay the rent?
Not so safe at work - compensation for an accident at work
New organ donation law: giving you control
Running a business from home
Have nude photos of you or your teenager been posted online?
Landowners’ rights and the Electronic Communications Code
Building in your back garden
Christmas is a time for giving (and inheritance planning)
Buying the freehold of your leasehold house
Redeveloping an empty pub for commercial use
Why it takes time to obtain the Grant of Probate
Social Media: The unconscious privacy threat
Is your reputation being threatened?
Making a will after your spouse or partner has died
Interns celebrate completion of internship at solicitors
Selling your home in a flat market, some top tips
Claiming compensation for a serious road traffic accident
New Media and Communications Court list reflects surge in internet defamation claims by Laura Baglow
Has your personal information been shared without your permission?
Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2
Government consultation on new national model for shared ownership
Choosing a partnership structure
Planning for what happens when you die by Deborah Adams
Changes to legislation could offer protection for tenants in the private rental sector
Move to the country - Part One
The risks of DIY probate
Will your septic tank still be legal in January?
The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
Making a will when you retire
Selling your property at auction
Not looking so good - your guide to compensation for botched non-surgical cosmetic procedures
New threshold of seriousness in defamation proceedings
Legal considerations when building a granny annex
Choosing the right person for your power of attorney
Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
Privacy rights and aerial images
Trustees’ duty to give information to beneficiaries
Five problems with a leasehold property
Taking your first commercial lease
Is your organisation protected from employee social media legal risk?
Have you been targeted by negative social media posts?
Farmers be alert when being inspected
Help for House Sellers?
Don’t let your digital assets end up in a digital grave
Valuing an estate for probate
Development proposals and your local authority search
What can you do if your child is injured in a serious accident
NetRights welcomes new protection for social media users
SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR A SPEEDING OFFENCE?
Supreme Court recognises that social media is a “casual medium” in libel battle
Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
Making a will after a second or subsequent marriage
Option or promotion agreement – which is best for landowners?
Anonymous pub and restaurant online reviews leave a bad taste
Have you had an accident involving a horse?
Help to Buy – beware of some cracks in the structure
Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Changes to Energy Performance Certificate for Landlords
Had a cycling accident? Your route to obtaining compensation
New year, new home: tips to sell your home in the New Year
Tax Planning for your inheritance
Hearing loss: when your employer may be liable
Buying a home for your retirement, five things you need to consider
Farmers plan to diversify after Brexit
Ministers press ahead with probate fee shake-up - reports BBC News
Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation
Why a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is a good idea
Will the new charge on building developments in Cornwall affect you?
Energy Performance Certificates – Do They Matter?
HMRC Challenging Stamp Duty Land Tax Payments
Ben Mitchell qualifies as a solicitor
The potential implications of Brexit on employment law
Appointing a guardian for your children
Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
New Agriculture Bill published
Will Brexit affect my pension?
Dreaming of a holiday home? Sort out the legals before putting your feet up
Lasting Power of Attorney by Deborah Adams
Settled status after Brexit by Alexis Hager
How to choose an executor to administer your estate when you die
How overage agreements can boost profits from your land
Top tips for first-time buyers
How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?
Wills & Succession in Spain by Deborah Adams
Brexit – an international and local view by Alexis Hager, Litigation
Capital gains tax - important facts for non-residents of the UK
Buying a home: the importance of making sure the seller is entitled to sell
Changing a will after someone has died: it is possible and it could save you money
Your responsibilities when you have people working in your home
Sad passing of Battle of Britain pilot who served with Parnall family member
Considerations when buying a heritage property
Disciplinary proceedings at work: guide for employers
Employers should have a disciplinary process in place, but just following this may not be enough to avoid falling foul of the law and exposing yourself to the risk of an employment tribunal claim.