You and the Law -11th October 2011

Marriage cancels a will

When my husband got divorced in 1995 he made a will leaving everything to his two sons.  I have been married to him for 18 months after living with him for three years.  If anything was to happen to him would his sons claim the house, since my husband hasn’t made a new will?  VK

No.  If you get married any will you may have made is automatically cancelled.  The only exception is where the will was clearly made in contemplation of marriage so that the intended spouse was taken into consideration.  So (assuming his will was not made in contemplation of marriage to you) your husbands will would be invalid should anything happen to him.  His estate would be divided as if he had never made a will, and under these rules you would receive the first £250,000 of his estate and a life interest in half the remainder.  You should persuade your husband to put the house into joint names though, so that it would automatically become yours on his death and not be included in the intestacy rules equation.  And he should make a new will.

Giving it away

I have thought of having a deed of gift drawn up for my property, but have been told that this will cost around £500 inclusive of VAT.  Since I am a pensioner would I be able to obtain legal aid for this?  BC

I am assuming you intend giving your property away.  You should speak to a solicitor about this, since although you may have a good reason you should be very careful.  If you fall out with the person you’ve given it to, or you give it to someone who owes money or gets divorced, you could find yourself homeless.  A deed of trust could provide you with some protection but these can have consequences.  The cost of transferring your home, and the fees involved, will depend on its value and whether it is registered at the Land Registry or not.

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