You and the Law – 21st June 2011

Children to share?

I have been married seven years, but the house was my husband’s first marital home.  He has four children, the youngest of whom is 15.  If he died, would the house automatically be mine?  It is in his name only, and he hasn’t made a will.  Would his children have any rights over the property?  The bank says there wouldn’t be a problem, as it would go to probate.  What does this mean?  MH

Since your husband hasn’t made a Will, his Estate , including the house , would be dealt with under intestacy rules.  There’s a potential problem here.  Under these rules you as his spouse would be entitled to the first £250,000.00 of his Estate and to a Life Interest in half of anything remaining.   His children would get the other half and your half when you die.   Although you could apply for a larger share, if the property is substantial it’s possible you would not even get the house outright, which could result in a conflict with your stepchildren.  You need to discuss this with your husband and a solicitor and make Wills.

Chalk and cheese sisters

I have two daughters who are total opposites.  The eldest is a dutiful, moral, stable wife, while the other is a twice-divorced layabout.  I have made a Will leaving my house and estate to the first-born.  Would the youngest have any success if she decided to contest the Will?  AN

Unlessyou were supporting her financially at the time of your death it’s most unlikely that she could contest your Will successfully.  Having said that, a recent case has extended the grounds for claiming in these circumstances.  You should state the reasons why you are not providing for your daughter in a letter (preferably drawn up by a solicitor) to be kept with your Will.  This would certainly help to deter a potential claim.

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