On this page we provide an overview of succession rights and estate planning for modern families:
It is natural for you to wish to deal with the present and to ensure that everything is done properly and in the simplest way possible.
However, it is also important to consider the future of you and your new family by putting in place a suitable Will. Unfortunately, the law is still getting to grips with many of the new scientific advances and social trends which have helped nurture the new ‘modern family’ structure. Therefore, it is important to have a solicitor who you can feel comfortable to discuss your personal circumstances with and for the solicitor to be aware of all potential obstacles you may face.
In the case of same-sex couples, civil partnerships are now treated in law the exact same way as marriage. However, this has some implications on how your assets are treated on your death, with or without a Will. Where there is no Will in place, civil partners are entitled to a number of different claims on their partner’s estate, and there are no assumptions that they are responsible for administering the estate for their partner. Where there is already a Will in place, the registration or dissolution of a civil partnership will automatically affect a person’s Will, so it should be reviewed in either event.
For any couple who live together, but have chosen not to marry or enter a civil partnership, the law dictates how your estate should be divided where there is no Will put in place. Your cohabiting partner can make a claim on your estate but this is not automatic and involves raising a court action which could be expensive. The rules in this area are very complex and dependent on the specific circumstances of each couple. Therefore, whether you would like your cohabiting partner to inherit your estate, or not, it is important to consider putting in place a Will for certainty and clarity and to avoid any unnecessary expenses or distress.
Where parents have children conceived using fertility treatment, the very definition of the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’ are dependent on the specific circumstances.
Why might this affect your Will? Well, where you wish to leave your estate to any children who were conceived through assisted reproduction, it may be beneficial to refer to the child by name to ensure they are specifically included. Further, if you wish to leave your estate to a class of beneficiaries such as ‘my grandchildren’, it is important to consider whether any of these children were or may be conceived this way.
In every case involving children, you should appoint a legal guardian to take care of your children in the event of you (and your partner’s) death. You might also want to include trust provisions in your Will to make sure that your children’s financial future is safeguarding. If you do not do so, your children will receive any assets outright when they reach the age of 16.
Of course, these are just a few examples of things to be borne in mind. Importantly, it is your solicitor’s job to ensure the family circumstances are carefully considered and that the Will is drafted to be as robust as possible. At BTO, we are alive to the new age of modern families and will ensure that you and your family’s circumstances are understood and catered for. Contact us to discuss further.
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