Why preparing a will is essential for the growing number of blended families in the UK

The traditional family setup is no longer the norm. Blended families represent a huge proportion of the UK population, with multi-family households – containing two or more families – the fastest growing household type during the last 20 years according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Life can be difficult for single parents and their children but for many finding a new partner and starting afresh in a new family setup is the next natural step. As a result, there are now millions of healthy, harmonious and happy blended families throughout the UK, each as uniquely formed as the last. 

For people in blended families, preparing a will is made even more essential, especially if you are a business owner or professional with a complex estate. In this article, we reveal why and how making a will could serve you and your blended family long into the future.

Why is writing a will important for blended families?

Preparing a will and ensuring your estate is managed and shared in accordance to your final wishes is vital in any family setup. It can help to avoid discrepancies, confusion or even arguments when the time finally comes and your estate needs to be passed on. 

Having a will in place also minimises inheritance tax (IHT) liability in some circumstances and makes certain the family members, friends or professionals you want to execute the probate process are appointed as you see fit.

The management of your estate upon your death is obviously more complicated in blended families. In line with the rules of intestacy, which apply should you die without making a will, unmarried partners and stepchildren do not have the same rights as legally married spouses, civil partners, and blood relatives meaning your blended family will not receive a fair share of your estate.

Where do unmarried partners and stepchildren stand without a will?

If you fail to prepare a will, you will die ‘intestate’ and your estate will be divided in accordance with the latest intestacy rules. As a result, there will be no or very little control over who is awarded what upon your death.

By law, an unmarried partner has no rights, whether there is children or grandchildren involved, or not. Without a will, the entire estate will be divided equally amongst the biological or adopted children, proceeds which they will only be able to access once they turn 18. 

Despite your relationship in life, your stepchildren are not entitled to a share of your estate upon your death. Blood relatives and spouses take precedence over unmarried partners, stepchildren and foster children.

Your will should also be used to name who will look after your dependents upon your death and again your cohabitee or partner won’t automatically inherit this responsibility. Without a will, the guardianship of your dependents could be determined by a local authority or court, leaving the future of your children, stepchildren or foster children uncertain.

How do I get started with will writing for blended families?

The best way to protect your assets and ensure your children, stepchildren and foster children are looked after appropriately should you pass away is to prepare a will. Your will can set out a plan for the future of your blended family, ensuring your partner and dependents are cared for as you see fit.

Getting expert help in the creation of a comprehensive and well managed will is essential.  Your will should also be revisited and revised as necessary on a regular basis to ensure your final wishes are in line with your current circumstances. 

Want to prepare a will and ensure that your estate is in order? Find out more about how Winn Solicitors can help here.

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