Probate Question: Death of Remarried Parent.
“My mother (who had remarried) died 5 years ago and I have been unable to locate her will. I believe she did have one (as she had paid for her funeral long before she died) and was very efficient and prudent with her documentation and financial affairs. Her second husband has not advised us of any will and I have contacted several experts in the area but to no avail. My stepdad is now in the process of selling their property and I am concerned as to whether my mother left all her possessions to my stepdad. Do you have any suggestions or advice for me, as I understand that there is no longer a national will register. I look forward to hearing from you.
There are many shortcoming in our Legal System and the lack of a proper Will register is one of them! But to answer your question:
Firstly, if it was an old Will, made before she expected to be remarried, it will almost certainly have been cancelled the minute she remarried, by law. Only if she had made it with the clear intention of taking the remarriage into account would it have remained valid. Of course, if she made it after the remarriage, that would not have been a problem.
Secondly, In many cases property is owned jointly in such a way that it automatically passes to the survivor. So, in the absence of other assets requiring probate, everything may pass to the (new) husband pretty much automatically, without the need for probate. If he then dies, then the chances are his family will get everything, unless proper legal planning advice had been taken and put in place before either died. And that is pretty rare.
If probate was required, you can get a copy of the Will (if any) and the Grant (if it was necessary) here: https://www.gov.uk/search-will-probate. But there will otherwise be no public record.
Hope that helps.
Note – Sound Planning for parents who remarry.
With second and later relationships and marriages becoming far more common, it is important for couples to make prudent provision for both first and second families. It isn’t totally straightforward, but our Legal Planning experts can sort it out so the death of a remarried parent doesn’t leave a legacy of distrust and concern, as happens in many second marriages, sadly. Exactly the same applies to people who live together. They tend to buy property together and have joint accounts. In exactly the same way, the assets each couple brought into the relationship can easily end up going entirely to the family of the second of the couple to die.
Folk tend to rely on goodwill, and the children of the dead parent rarely seem as important as the survivors own children. So guess where the inheritance goes?
It is perfectly possible to be fair and protect everyone’s interests. So take some action and contact our Legal Planning team below.
Our associated Peace of Mind Service can help to keep your Legal Planning up to date as life changes and the government regularly changes the rules!