Re-marriage, stepchildren and inheritance

7th July 2023

A recent article in the Sunday Times highlighted some of the very real problems that can arise over inheritances and family wealth as the number of “blended” families rises. 

If you enter a second relationship or have children from multiple relationships, then issues can arise as to how to benefit everyone on your death.  This is even more of an issue where you have stepchildren involved or co-habiting couples.  It is not often appreciated that re-marrying will invalidate a previous will, which can lead to unforeseen problems and potentially expensive litigation at a later date. 

Not doing anything to address these problems, and relying on things to be sorted out after your death, is not really a solution, as the statutory intestacy rules that apply when someone dies without leaving a will can be arbitrary and will not necessarily take into account different family circumstances. For example, an unmarried partner or a stepchild who has not been adopted cannot benefit under the intestacy rules.

With this in mind, the key to ensuring that your wishes are followed and that the people you wish to inherit do eventually benefit, is to ensure that you have a properly drafted will drawn up and that it is kept under regular review.  Proper planning is the key to ensuring that wider family circumstances can be taken into account and a way of benefiting everyone found. 

Colman Coyle has considerable experience in advising in relation to lifetime succession planning and the preparation of wills. If you would like to discuss the issues raised here, please contact Patrick Green on +44 (0)207 354 3000 or

Patrick Green

Patrick Green

Senior Associate