Getting married for the second time or cohabiting with a new partner? I know it does not sound very romantic, but take some legal advice before taking that step. Go into that new relationship with your eyes wide open.

Firstly, any Will that you already have is automatically cancelled when you remarry. You can make a new Will in contemplation of your re-marriage, so you do not need to go straight from the Register office to your Solicitors office. Your new Will can say: “I make this Will in contemplation of my marriage with John Smith and my Will shall not be cancelled by virtue of that marriage”.

Secondly, if you move in together without marrying then, after a certain period of cohabitation, your new partner has the right to make a claim against your estate after your death. This is the case even if in your Will you have indicated for example that your pre-owned assets should pass to your children. It is important that you take legal advice before moving in together in order to ensure that in the event of your death your executors do not have to deal with an unnecessary claim by your partner.

Thirdly, if you have children from your first marriage or relationship whom you still wish to benefit on your death, you can indicate in your Will that any assets you have shall upon your death pass to your children. You can pass them to your children immediately upon your death or, you can leave them in trust for your new spouse/partner until his or her death and then pass them to your children. In this way your new partner/spouse is not able to pass your assets to his family or, to any new partner he or she may have after your death.

Fourthly you and your new spouse/partner may wish to have a pre-nuptial agreement in order to confirm how your assets should be divided in the event of your divorce or separation. Again this is not romantic but very practical.

The above all needs to be dealt with well in advance of your remarriage or your moving in together so do take early legal advice. You may be reading this and have a parent who is about to get married for the second time or move in with a new partner. You may be worried about “your inheritance”. Do not begrudge your parents a second chance of happiness. We now live a long time and do not always want to live by ourselves. Be grateful that someone is providing your parent with some much needed company. Remember that there are things your parent can do to protect themselves – not to protect your inheritance because actually there is no “right” to inheritance – but to protect them. No-one wants to be involved in costly legal wrangles and by planning well in advance of the remarriage or cohabitation you can avoid all of this and the heartache that will be involved.

At Dixon Stewart we often draw up agreements for people who are remarrying or moving in together. This ensures that if separation or death occurs they have correctly recorded what they wish to happen in those circumstances. There is then, less room for argument by those who are not happy including your extended family members.

Plan in advance and contact Dixon Stewart on or call 01425 279222.