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Baby boomer remarriages – is your will up to date?

STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), the global professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning, today urges remarried couples with complex family arrangements to ensure their Wills are up to date, as analysis shows that couples from the remarriage boom of the 1990s and early 2000s are now likely to be entering retirement.

  • Figures show remarriage rates reached all-time highs in the 1990s and early 2000s
  • Getting married automatically revokes previous wills, which can cause problems later
  • STEP calls on couples to seek professional advice and ensure they are up to date

According to the Office for National Statistics, remarriages in England and Wales reached all-time peaks of up to 46,000 per year 1 in the late 1990s and early 2000s – the period when the post-war baby boom generations hit middle age. After this unprecedentedly high period of second and even third marriages, the number of unions where at least one partner was previously divorced then declined steadily again to just 18,924 3 in 2019 – the lowest since 1977.

Members of the baby boomer cohort are now in or approaching retirement, so it is more important than ever that remarried couples in that age group ensure their Wills are up to date. Marriage or civil partnership automatically revokes any previous Wills (except in Scotland) which can make providing for loved ones more complicated and even lead to conflict over assets when multiple sets of children are involved.

Couples who are currently considering divorce should also think carefully about their Wills. While divorce does not automatically revoke your Will, it can leave it in a mess because it will be read as though your ex-spouse is not in it. And in the days/weeks/months leading up to your divorce, your Will is still valid. So, if you die prior to the decree absolute, your spouse will inherit in accordance with your Will. If this is not what you want, you may wish to review your Will as soon as you are aware that you are going to get divorced.

The first weeks of January are when divorce enquiries reach their peak in the UK as lawyers and relationship charities experience a surge in referrals and there is a spike in internet searches for divorce after Christmas. STEP always recommends speaking to a qualified advisor about the impact of divorce and remarriage on any existing estate-planning arrangements to ensure all angles have been considered.

Emily Deane, Technical Counsel at STEP, said: ‘Thirty years ago saw the start of a decade-long boom in second marriages, but many people don’t realise that marriage or civil partnership automatically revokes any previous Wills they might have had.

‘In complex families this can cause real issues and even conflict between different sets of children when a parent dies. It’s all too easy to put off writing your Will but this January is the perfect time to make that resolution and get it sorted.

‘At the moment people may be worried about social distancing, but Wills now can be witnessed by video conference if necessary, following a change in the law last year.’

Source: STEP Journal printed on STEP website on 7 January 2021

Fogwill & Jones (Legal Services) Limited remains open during these unprecedented times with our staff working from home.  We are conducting meetings with our clients via Skype, Zoom or on the telephone.

If you would like help with making a new Will please contact Helena Grady  on (0114 2588899).  Helena Grady is a Solicitor and member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) with many years’ experience.

Please note that, although Fogwill & Jones (Legal Services) Limited operate from the same premises as Fogwill & Jones Asset Management Limited they are entirely separate businesses.  The only connection is that both are owned by Colin Fogwill. If you are a client of Fogwill & Jones Asset Management Limited you are under no obligation to instruct Fogwill & Jones (Legal Services) Limited and you may choose to instruct alternative legal advisers.