Family dynamics are complex and, when it comes to wills, estates and beneficiaries, it can cause a bit of a headache when planning your estate. We have an interesting Q & A this month on a topic that has arisen on a few occasions which we hope may be a useful read.
Q My husband and I want to create a joint will with our daughter as the sole beneficiary. In the will we plan to leave our whole estate to our daughter and her alone however, she has a partner who we are not overly fond of. While they are not married, he is the father of our grandchildren and will be a part of our daughters’ life long after we are gone. Our worry is that if they marry and then split up that he would be entitled to half the estate that we have left. Is there any way that we can secure our estate for use by our daughter and grandchildren only?
A: Let’s consider your joint will to begin with, these are rarely used because of their rigidity- joint wills can only be altered with the consent of both parties which can be troublesome if one of you has passed.
Our advice would be for you to consider arranging mirror wills to be drawn up instead. Mirror wills ensure that you each have a will which are identical in terms of provisions and beneficiaries and will mean that your estate will be passed to the surviving spouse in the first instance and then on to your daughter. Mirror wills also have the advantage that they can be altered by the individual and do not need consent from both parties.
With regards to your daughter and her partner, if they do not get married then your daughters’ inheritance is safe as there would be no formal proceedings to separate their estate if they split up.
If your daughter does marry her partner then anything she inherited from you would be included in the negotiations of a divorce settlement however your daughter’s partner would not necessarily be entitled to half her inheritance. The amount he would get depends on the agreement that they make and only your daughter can determine this at the time.
If you are really concerned then you could consider suggesting a pre-nuptial agreement is drawn up between your daughter and her partner though this may strain family relations and should be very carefully considered before you take action.