1 September 2023

Your Will in a Blended Family – Cohabiting, Second Marriages and Children

Your Will in a Blended Family – Cohabiting, Second Marriages and Children

The “traditional” family dynamic has changed over recent years and blended families are more common in society. This is where family members re-marry following a death or divorce, or cohabit and have children/step-children from new relationships.

This also includes individuals who stay married but are separated from their spouse and have a long cohabiting relationship with new partners and further children whilst remaining married to their ex-partner. In this situation, your ex-partner/spouse could inherit your entire estate if you haven’t made a Will or formally ended your marriage in divorce.

It is therefore important to take specialist legal advice in relation to your Will to make sure you are providing for all of your loved ones in this type of family dynamic.

New relationships, re-marriage and children

Blended families come with their own challenges. Seeking expert advice to protect the interests of your spouse, co-habiting partner, children and step-children requires thoughtful planning.

Making a Will at Howell Jones means you will be presented with the different options available based on your situation. You will then be able to make a well-informed decision as to how best to structure your Will.

Not making a Will may mean that all your assets pass to your newly-wed spouse outright, and nothing for your children from previous marriages/relationships or to an ex-partner spouse and nothing to your new partner. Therefore, not seeking specialist legal advice may mean that assets will pass to the wrong beneficiaries, giving rise to claims on your estate and future family conflict.

You need to be thinking about making or updating your Will when you enter into a new relationship and have children outside of marriage or relationship. You will be able to specify how your estate is to be distributed on your death to consider children from previous relationships, new relationships and step-children.

A well-drafted Will protects the interests of everyone you care about. When updating your Will, it is important to consider the following:

  1. Previous marriages and how they ended;
  2. Potential for financial claims on your estate;
  3. Children, step-children and adopted children; and
  4. Co-habiting relationships.

Dying without a Will in a blended family

If you pass away without a Will, this means that you have died intestate and there are rules on who will inherit and how much. The rules of intestacy do not provide for spouses.

If you have children from a previous relationship and you want to also provide for your unmarried partner, this can be achieved through discretionary or life interest trusts. It is imperative to receive legal advice as to the pros, cons and how to set these up correctly in your Will.

Seeking legal advice will determine the most suitable type of Will based on your family’s situation.


If you have minor children, it is also vital to address this in your Will especially where the children’s parents are not together. This will designate who is to be appointed as the testamentary guardian and again, ensure that your wishes are followed in this respect.

Transparent communication

Open and honest communication is key when estate planning with your family. It is important to discuss your wishes with your loved ones. This will manage everyone’s expectations and minimise conflicts in the future.

Consider speaking to your children, step-children, spouse and partner when seeking legal advice. While conversations about inheritance and death are difficult, proactive and clear discussions will help avoid misunderstandings and resentment after you have passed away.

Professional guidance

Navigating how to make a will and the best approach to take in blended families is difficult. At Howell Jones, we can assist with the guidance of an experienced Surrey wills solicitor who will ensure your wishes and all individuals are considered by providing bespoke and thought-out advice.

After making your Will, you will achieve peace of mind knowing that your Will follows your intention, to ultimately provide for all of your loved ones in the manner you direct.

our lawyers deliver an excellent quality service, independently recognised by The Law Society and our many returning clients.

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