The Rise of the Second Marriage

04 Apr 2016

The number of people over the age of 60 getting divorced has risen since the 1990s. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), in 2012 the largest percentage increase in the number of marriages between 2011 and 2012 was for men and women aged 65 and 69 rising by 25% and 21% respectively. The recent marriage of Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall seems to be following the trend.

When you get married, any Will you currently have will be revoked unless it is drafted specifically anticipating that future marriage. This might not be too concerning on a first marriage when you may want your partner to automatically inherit everything but on a second marriage this may cause some problems.

For example, children from previous relationships may lose out and may have to go through the Courts to make a claim on your Estate. This could be a costly and frustrating process. Under the rules of Intestacy (which is how an Estate is distributed when there is no valid Will) if the value of an Estate is under £250,000 then the surviving spouse will automatically inherit everything. If it is over £250,000 the surviving spouse will get the first £250,000 (this includes property) together with the interest on that sum from the date of death and half of the remaining assets. The surviving children will get the other half.

As another example, if you have previously been widowed and subsequently re-marry you may lose out on benefiting from your late spouse’s nil rate band. This is currently set at £325,000 per person. If you leave everything to your spouse then on the second death there is the chance to have twice that amount available as a tax free sum against the Estate.  However, some simple tax planning by using a nil rate band discretionary trust could help you preserve your first spouse’s nil rate band so that it can be utilised and allow for flexibility for your Executors/Trustees.  

Both of these situations can be easily avoided but it does involve the less than romantic visit to your solicitor for some advice on your particular situation. In any event, whatever your marital status, it is incredibly important to have a Will drawn up to ensure that your Estate passes to the beneficiaries you choose in the most tax efficient way possible.