Latest statistics show that the numbers of widows, widowers and divorcees remarrying is on the increase and with people living longer, the age at which remarriage occurs is also increasing. Marrying later in life can add an extra layer of complexity to your financial and personal affairs and cast a new light on decisions and arrangements made previously about inheritances and later life wishes.

With that in mind, we have developed the following checklist to help you avoid unanticipated problems for you or your family.

The Will

Marriage revokes any Will executed beforehand unless it was made in contemplation of the marriage which has since taken place. When making a new Will you need to consider the impact of the wishes of any persons with parental responsibility for children from a previous marriage; who to appoint as executors and trustees; how to provide for a spouse while protecting or preserving capital assets for the children; and how to provide for children from a previous relationship. Remember that your Will may need to make provision for a former spouse, depending on the terms of your court order. Unless the court order relating to an earlier divorce prohibits a clam, a former spouse who has not remarried can ask the court to make provisions for them out of your estate following your death.

Lasting Power of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows you to set out in advance what you would like to happen should you become unable to make decisions for yourself in the future, including who you would like to nominate as your attorney or attorneys to make decisions on your behalf.There are two types of LPAs:

  • A financial affairs LPA is for decisions about finances, such as selling your house or managing your bank account; and
  • A health and welfare  LPA is for decisions about both health and personal welfare, such as where to live, day-to-day care or having medicals treatment.

You can limit the scope of your attorney's powers or provide for circumstances where one or more attorneys can make decisions over certain things with more important decisions having to be made with the agreement of all your attorneys.

Unlike a Will, a power of attorney is not revoked on marriage so if you already have an LPA it is important to review it to ensure it still reflects your wishes and that the attorneys and the scope of their powers are still suitable.

Benefits in Trust

If you have life cover or pension death benefits, consider putting them into a trust. A trust can offer you greater flexibility in how the benefits are distributed as well as offering potential tax savings.

Where your life assurance or pension are already in trust, review the terms of the trust to ensure that it reflects your requirements and to seek professional advice to make any changes that are necessary.

Property ownership

Land in England and Wales can be held as joint tenants or as tenants in common. Tenants in common affords tax planning opportunities that are not available on properties held in joint tenancy. In addition, if you own your home as joint tenants it will automatically pass to the surviving spouse, whereas ownership as tenants in common ensures that your interest in property passes to the correct beneficiaries in line with your Will. Declarations of Trust should be considered to reflect unequal contributions to the cost and improvements to property.

Lifetime Trusts and Gifting

If you are thinking of gifting assests into trusts or making direct gifts to individuals such as children or grandchildren, consider doing so before the marriage takes place to avoid dispute in the event of divorce. Lifetime gifting can reduce inheritance tax and by making gifts into a trust structure it is possible to protect the assets in the event of the bankruptcy or divorce of a beneficiary and provide funds for family maintenance in a flexible manner. It may also be possible to defer having to pay capital gains tax if assets standing at a gain are given to a trust.

Pre/Post-Nuptial Agreements

If you have been through a divorce you will want to consider having an agreement in place prior to your remarriage as to what should happen to you assets in the event of a future marriage breakdown.

Such agreements are persuasive to judges in divorce cases, provide a degree of certainty and comfort to the couple and can assist in keeping the costs of litigation down. Post-nuptial agreements offer similar benefits.

Contact

If you have been through a divorce you will want to consider having an agreement in place prior to your remarriage as to what should happen to your assets in the event of a further marriage breakdown.

Such agreements are persuasive to judges in divorce cases, provide a degree of certainty and comfort to the couple and can assist in keeping the costs of litigation down. Post-nuptial agreements offer similar benefits.