Wills & Children From Previous Relationships. Here Are Some Tips On Going Forward

Home > Wills & Children From Previous Relationships. Here Are Some Tips On Going Forward

In England and Wales, the absence of a well written will can lead to unexpected consequences, especially for those with children from previous relationships. The complex rules of intestacy might disregard the interests of children from prior unions and marriages, potentially leaving them without a legacy from their parent.

We’ll take you through the important steps to take when it comes to understanding risks, writing wills, and recognising potential impact on children.

Understanding The Risks Of Intestacy

Under English and Welsh law, when someone dies without a will (intestate), the statutory rules of intestacy dictate the distribution of the estate and what family members receive a part of the estate. This distribution heavily favours the surviving spouse but might sideline or bypass children from earlier relationships and marriages. In law, the intestacy rules set a statutory legacy amount, currently £322,000.00, that will pass to a surviving spouse, together with personal chattels and half of the remaining estate, potentially leaving insufficient provision for children from a previous relationship.

Impact On Children From Previous Relationships

Children from prior relationships and marriages could find themselves omitted from inheritance due to the default distribution mechanisms of the intestacy laws. Despite the emotional and familial ties, if the proper legal steps are not taken, they may not receive any legacy from their parent’s estate. With some careful consideration and expert advice on estate planning the unintended outcomes of the intestacy laws can be avoided.

Mitigating Strategies

To safeguard the interests of children from previous relationships, careful estate planning is paramount. One effective strategy involves structuring property ownership as “tenants in common,” allowing a parent to direct their share of a property, which is usually the matrimonial home, to specific beneficiaries, such as children from earlier relationships, while granting the surviving spouse a life interest in the property.

Using Wills For Protection

Crafting a comprehensive will is crucial for ensuring that your intentions for the distribution of your estate are upheld. Specifying a half share of the matrimonial home to children from a prior relationship through a will, alongside provisions for the surviving spouse’s residency until death, allows for a fair and secure arrangement.


In the complex landscape of English and Welsh law, overlooking careful estate planning can have severe and unintended repercussions and outcomes, especially for couples and individuals that have children from previous relationships. By using legal instruments such as wills, deeds of trusts, inter vivo trusts (living trusts) and strategic property ownership, individuals can protect their children’s inheritance rights while ensuring the welfare of their surviving spouse.

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Published on 17th June 2024 in by