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February 26, 2017

How to Avoid Sideways Disinheritance

When couples decide to make a will they often think that it’s best to keep things as straightforward as possible. More often than not they leave everything to their spouse or partner in the event that they pass. This is usually so that their partner can continue to live in the same house and have access to all their finances.

Typically a couple consider everything to be jointly owned even if something technically belongs to only one of them. As such, the wills in question probably state that whoever dies last would leave all their assets and estate to their children in equal shares. This sounds sensible and straightforward, don’t you agree?

Sideways DisinheritanceMost of the time it can be this simple, however this isn’t always the case. People don’t tend to consider the possibility that after the first person has died, the other partner could decide to alter their will. They could decide to leave their assets and estate to someone other than the children. This is particularly well known when there is a new spouse or partner.

Sometimes it can be an accident. When the surviving partner decides to remarry, the old will is automatically cancelled and the partner may not consider this. Following this, with no valid will in place, if the partner was to pass away the new spouse would be entitled to everything under the rules of intestacy.

This is called the ‘sideways disinheritance trap’. Meaning the estate moves sideways to the new partner rather than down in generation to the children. What started out as a simple option to protect your partner and spouse has now become the reason they are left with nothing.

However there are ways to prevent this from happening, which is where our services here at Bespoke Support Network could help. The first option is simple, protect your children by making sure you update your will when you remarry. This may sound like an easy fix but it can be scary how many people forget.

Another option would be to include a life interest trust in your will. This means that when you die all your assets will be automatically placed into a trust instead of going directly to your spouse or partner. The life interest trust can be managed by appointed trustees and will ring-fence your assets and name your ‘life tenant’. A life tenant will be allowed to live in your property and gain any income generated by your ring-fenced assets for the rest of their lifetime, or if you wish, until they remarry.

You could also make mirror wills. These are identical wills that ‘mirror’ each other so regardless of who passes away first, your wishes and intentions stay the same.

To discuss mirror wills or a life interest trust call Bespoke Support Network today. We have experts at hand who can support you with any advice you may need. Get in touch today for total peace of mind.

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