The Gazette, August 9 2019

How does marriage affect your Will?

Every month we hold free legal clinics in Kingsbridge and Dartmouth, and the Salcombe clinic will be back in September.

With the current wedding season upon us, many couples are busy planning their big day and futures together.  A couple who are getting married in September came to see us recently.  They had heard that getting married would revoke their Wills and they were concerned who would inherit their assets if they died. 

We confirmed that their marriage would automatically revoke their Wills.  This meant that unless they made a new Will before they died, their money and possessions would be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. The intestacy laws set out how their assets would be divided between their surviving family members.  

The couple each had children from previous relationships and they each wanted to make sure that their own children inherited a share of their jointly owned their property. 

The intestacy laws definitely wouldn’t distribute their assets in the way that they wished.  To ensure that their assets passed on to the people they chose, they would have to make new Wills. The new Wills could be made in advance of the wedding if the Will included a clause to confirm that it was intended to remain valid after the marriage, or they could make new Wills as soon as possible after their wedding.

We also explained that there were two ways to own joint property – as joint tenants or tenants in common. If they owned the property as joint tenants and one of them died, the survivor would automatically own the whole property.

In order to leave their share of the property to their own children, they needed to make sure that they owned the property as tenants in common.  They could then specify in their Will who would inherit their share, and they could also leave each other a life interest to ensure that the survivor could remain living in the property for as long as they wished. 

Our next free legal clinics are at Kingsbridge Library on 20 August, Dartmouth Library on 6 September and Salcombe Library on 11th September.