News & Blog

For the latest industry and case news

What happens when? A review of wills and relationships

By Maariyah Sidat, Fiona Haigh, Emily Bosworth

Published In: Wills and Probate

In the UK, if you die without having made a valid will there are rules set in law as to who will inherit your estate (defined as all assets that you hold in your sole name).  These rules are called the Rules of Intestacy.

photo of casual young couple

What happens if I am in a relationship and I die without a will?

The first thing to stress is that if you are not married or in a civil partnership then you do not stand to inherit under the rules of intestacy and making a will is imperative if you want your loved one to inherit.

If you are married (or in civil partnership) and have children and the value of all assets in your sole name is below £322,000, on death your surviving spouse or civil partner would inherit everything.   

If your estate is worth over £322,000 then the following would happen:

  • Your spouse or civil partner would inherit the first £322,000, half of the rest of the estate and your personal belongings
  • Your children would be entitled to half of the estate over £322,000 (or if they have passed away, then their children inherit)
  • If you are married or in a civil partnership and do not have any children, under the rules of intestacy the survivor of you will inherit your entire estate.

What happens to my will if I get married?

A marriage revokes a will.  If you are single (not married) when you make your will, unless you have made the will in contemplation of marriage, your will is revoked, and you need to make a new one.

What happens to my will if I divorce?

If someone divorces or ends a civil partnership, their will remains valid but takes effect as if the former spouse/civil partner had died before them.  

It’s important to stress that the former spouse / civil partner will of course only be deemed to have died beforehand once the final order has been made.  Unless the final order has been made, then your former spouse / civil partner will still benefit.

It’s really important therefore to review your will immediately upon separation in order to clarify your wishes and ensure your estate is passed on as you would like.

 What happens if I am cohabitating with young children and have no will?

If you are a cohabiting couple (not married) and have young children together, it is vital to make a will if you want your partner to inherit. If you don’t then the rules of intestacy will apply and your children would benefit, but not until they are 18. Trustees would have to look after their inheritance until they were old enough. In order to receive any inheritance your partner may be able to make a claim on your estate. They may have to do so in order to have funds to raise your children. This can be expensive and cause a lot of stress for those involved.

 What happens with blended families and wills?

Blended families are now more common than ever. A blended family is where people remarry and have children from previous relationships and form new families. In this situation, it is vital that you have a will in place.

Upon re-marriage, the previous wills are revoked, and a new will needs to be written to reflect the change in circumstances of the spouse and their new relationship. Failure to take professional advice about your will upon re-marriage can lead to sideways disinheritance, which is where your children do not benefit from your estate when you pass away.

Many spouses are comfortable leaving their assets outright to each other on death on the assumption they will do the right thing and ensure that their children receive an inheritance. This however cannot be guaranteed once your spouse has inherited from your estate. Over time, the relationship with your children may change or the surviving spouse may decide to remarry again.

In having to balance commitments to their previous and new families, spouses sometimes have to make tricky decisions on who receives their assets, and this can mean the children from previous marriages can be accidentally or intentionally disinherited.

We can advise you on the best way to prepare your will, using Trusts to provide for your surviving spouse during their lifetime AND your children. Call us on 0800 138 0458 or email






Back to News & Blog
Share this post
photo of Maariyah Sidat

Maariyah is a Trainee Solicitor. She is currently working in our Family Law team.

Trainee Solicitor
photo of Fiona Haigh

Fiona has worked in the legal sector for over two years.  She spent time as a Wills and Probate Advisor and is now training to become a Solicitor.

Trainee Solicitor
photo of Emily Bosworth

Emily is a Wills and Probate Advisor.  She’s based in our Wakefield office.

Wills Advisor

News, views and information from us and the industry

Related posts

Contact us