With the wedding season now in full swing, it is a fitting time to consider some other aspects of tying the knot and the longer term issues.
Change is an inevitable part of life, as the saying goes, and while changing the names on the bank cards may be an exciting prospect, it shouldn’t eclipse that other marriage thrill – updating your will!
Wills are important
Although this may feel like a sombre activity to carry out in the days leading up to or following “the big day”, its importance cannot be understated. On marriage, there are changes in what your nearest and dearest is entitled to if one of you passes away.
It is possible that as a cohabiting couple you may have drafted your wills specifically to suit your cohabiting set up and to ensure that your estate passed in accordance with your wishes. Or perhaps your courtship was brief, and your will was drafted before you even became a couple. Or maybe you have not got round to making a will yet…
Whatever the case – it is crucial to ensure that your will is designed to fulfil your wishes, taking into account your change in circumstance.
Remarriage – what to consider?
Figures from the Office for National Statistics illustrate that there are an increasing number of people marrying who have already been married in the past. Second marriages bring a wealth of considerations. You might want to make sure that your children from previous relationships are provided for, in addition to making provisions for your new partner and any new step-children you are welcoming into the fold.
It’s worth remembering that Scottish law now provides that following a divorce, annulment or dissolution of an earlier marriage or civil partnership the appointment of a former spouse or civil partner as executor, or a legacy in their favour, automatically fails unless specifically intended to continue. This is a helpful measure, but it is always worth checking the position.
Looking to the future
Future-proofing your legal affairs is likely to be high on the agenda. It would, naturally, be wise to organise your affairs to cover any future children, even if it may not be top of your list when you are still in the stage of wedded bliss.
As you enter the prime of your life as a newly wedded couple, it is also worth considering that the extent of your wealth is likely to fluctuate over the years. As well as the fact that you are likely combining assets from marriage onwards, any changes in the value of your estate could alter how much each individual in your will stands to inherit.
Adapting your legal plans to suit your “new normal” does not end with your will. The importance of powers of attorney cannot be downplayed – regardless of whether you are considering putting one in place for the first time, or reviewing the appropriateness of your appointments in an existing power of attorney. Given the extensive and deeply personal nature of the powers granted to attorneys, it is crucial that you trust your appointed persons to act in your best interests. Most individuals are likely to want their spouse or civil partner to fulfil this role.
Finally, never overlook the destination of pension and life assurance benefits, now that you are married, as you will want to ensure that guidance is given as to who you would like these to be paid in the event of your demise.
Change may be inevitable, but this merely reinforces how important it is to respond to it appropriately and timeously. Taking the steps to review your legal affairs is the perfect way to honour your new union and to kick off the honeymoon period.