Blended families

Blended families form when partners with children from previous relationships come together to form a new family unit. You and your partner may be married, unmarried, or in a civil partnership.

This situation is increasingly common as more couples with children from previous relationships marry or live together. These children may or may not be your stepchildren.

Consider your blended family unit when making your will; in particular:

What should you consider in your will?

Protecting your children

If leaving most of your estate to each other, consider what happens after you both pass away. If only your children are beneficiaries, the first partner’s children might receive nothing. This is called sideways disinheritance. Alternatively, you can name all of the children from both families as beneficiaries.

If you’re worried your children won’t receive anything, leave a gift to them in your will. This ensures they will inherit if your partner changes their will, remarries, or enters a civil partnership.

Joint property

Check which assets in your estate will automatically pass to your partner or anyone else. This is known as holding an asset as Joint Tenants. By changing the ownership to Tenants in Common, you can gift your property share to whomever you wish.

If you are unsure about your asset ownership, consult the lawyer who handled your property purchase or transfer.

Create a right to live in a property

Some trusts allow your partner to live in your property for life. These trusts ensure your property interest eventually goes to your children or other beneficiaries.

There are other types of trust available, which can be a good way of making sure that you look after everyone important to you. They can become very complex, so it is important that you seek legal advice if you are considering including a trust in your will.

You can call to book with an advisor and make a will by video or voice call here, or speak with a lawyer.

Mutual wills

A “mutual” will creates a complex trust to protect your estate when you die. These wills often cause more problems than they solve, so we do not recommend them. You should seek legal advice before doing so.

A mutual will is different from the commonly made “mirror” will. A mirror will effectively mirrors the will of the partner you are making a will with and you can change it any time afterwards. A mutual will cannot. Professionals rarely recommend mutual wills because they cannot always predict future changes in your circumstances. This can seriously disadvantage your loved ones after your death.

What can happen if I don’t consider my options?

If you choose to leave everything to your partner without considering your children or other family, you could fall into the trap of accidentally disinheriting them. Your partner may not get around to updating their will after you die, or may not include your children in their new will. Additionally, your partner could remarry or enter into a civil partnership, automatically revoking any existing will they have. Your preferred beneficiaries will no longer inherit from the estate you passed to your partner in your will.