As families change, so too should your legal arrangements

3rd August 2018

As families change, so too should your legal arrangements

If ever there was a statistic that illustrated the changing family dynamic of 21st century Britain it’s this: according to the latest figure, most pregnancies now happen to women who are not married.

According to the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics, only 42 per cent of pregnancies now take place within a marriage or civil partnership.

As was widely reported earlier this year, marriage rates have fallen to an all-time low. In 2015, the most recent full year for which figures are available, there were 239,020 marriages between opposite sex couples – down 3.4 per cent on 2014. And of those who do tie the knot, 42 per cent end in divorce.

As marriage declines, there has been a rise in the number of cohabiting couples. There are now 3.3million couples living together without being married — more than double the number of a decade ago.

As the data proves, families are changing. The traditional lifespan of birth, marriage, procreation and death has been replaced with a more complex, less straightforward arrangement. It’s no longer unusual for children to be born to unmarried parents, or children to have different fathers or mothers to their siblings.

And as society changes, so too should your legal arrangements.

An up-to-date, professionally drawn-up will, for example, is crucial no matter what your circumstances – but is even more vital in the case of an entangled family tree.

Without one, your final wishes may go unheard and your loved ones will face added pressure at an already emotionally fraught time. A will is especially important if you own property or other valuable assets, and even more so if you have children.

If you die without leaving a will, your estate will be shared out according to the rules of intestacy, under which only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit. That means that if you are not married, your surviving partner may be deprived of their home or your joint wealth.

Meanwhile, children of first marriages, for example, may find they inherit nothing if one of their divorced parents remarries and then dies before their second spouse.

The importance of seeking professional help can not be overstated here – if your will is not legally valid, the rules of intestacy will decide how the estate will be shared out instead of the wishes expressed in the document.

Yet despite the risks, most people in the England have no will in place. A survey carried out by Which? revealed that just four in 10 people have written a will, while those who do waited until they were, on average, 47 before making it.

How can Gotelee Solicitors help?

We may not like talking about death but it’s the ultimate eventuality and preparing for the future by making a will is an essential part of life planning.

Our specialist team of lawyers can meet you at one of our offices in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe or Woodbridge and can guide you through the process of ensuring your final wishes are carried out.

Gotelee can also advise on the general procedures of administering an estate, obtaining the Grant from the Probate Registry and distributing the estate in accordance with the will or the intestacy rules if there is no will.

To find out more, contact Nicola Weldon on 01394 388605 or nicola.weldon@gotelee.co.uk.

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