26 Nov 2021

Step-parents, Step-children and the Changing of Wills

With new generations in society more open to the prospect of divorce and starting over, the increase in blended families is tangible.

This can result in more complex family scenarios, with stepchildren more common in Wills and future planning.

But what happens if the biological parent passes before the step-parent and the latter changes their mind on a Will?

The scenario

Two people (both with children already) re-marry after their previous relationships end. Both decide to create Wills which mirror the other; in the event of death, their estate will be transferred to their partner and then on to their own children once the latter passes away.

When the time comes, the surviving step-parent may change their Will to benefit their own family as opposed to the step-children.

Why might this happen?

A number of circumstances can lead to this scenario unfolding in this way. The relationship between step-child and step-parent can become strained over time, or the step-parent can be influenced by other opinions. Whatever the circumstances, it creates a tense scenario and one that can be awkward, both socially and legally.

Can it be challenged?

There could be scope for challenge if the testator (the person who has made the Will) lacked capacity, or they could make a claim that the testator does not know and would not approve of the content of the Will, or there could be a claim of undue influence or coercion, or potentially even reasonable provision.

The best way forward?

If this situation is affecting you, the best way forward is to seek the legal advice and expertise of a solicitor who specialises in Wills. They will provide a more definitive answer regarding your queries and help you, hopefully, moderate and resolve the issues with the Will and estate planning before they arise.

Good to talk

We find a lot of the difficulties in a blended family can be overcome before they arise if an open approach is made to the Will planning and solutions found ahead of time to ensure the right provision is left for both sides of the family.

Call our Wills, Probate & Trusts Team on 0800 915 2328.

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