AS society evolves, it’s often necessary to refine existing laws to better reflect societal changes, but it can take time for the legal system to catch up with new ways of living.

Increased divorce rates nationally suggest it’s becoming less likely for people to remain with their original partner their entire lives. As a result, there are now more blended families, where one or both parents have children from a previous relationship.

But did you know that without a Last Will and Testament the biggest problems can occur after a partner or parent’s death?

Rachel Hanson, an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, specialises in the rules which govern who will inherit an estate when someone dies without a Will, which is known as an ‘intestacy’.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Rachel Hanson, Walker Foster SolicitorsRachel Hanson, Walker Foster Solicitors
During her eleven years at the respected legal firm Walker Foster Solicitors, she has worked with parents of blended families throughout Yorkshire to ensure that their wishes are carried out after their deaths.

Rachel explains: “Anyone who doesn’t put a Will in place before their death risks having their estate divided up against their wishes when they die, but this is especially true for unmarried couples and blended families.

“There is a widely-held belief that so-called ‘common law marriage’ confers the same legal protections as being legally married, but this is not true.

“If you are not married, or have not entered into a civil partnership, and you die without a Will, your partner will not automatically inherit your estate, even if you were in a long-term, loving relationship. Your partner could potentially be left with nothing.

“Another scenario we see is when a client has children from a previous relationship. Without a Will, and dependent upon the value of their estate, their estate will pass first to their spouse or civil partner, then to the children of that spouse or civil partner, potentially leaving their other children from a previous relationship with nothing.

“Nobody wants to be in these positions. That is why it should be a priority to discuss your estate with a qualified legal expert and have them draw up a Will which reflects your choices.”

In such circumstances, legal professionals in Rachel’s position will often recommend implementing a trust in a Will, which gives the surviving spouse or partner a right to benefit from some, or all, of the estate.

The trust can last for the rest of the beneficiary’s lifetime, for a limited period of time, or until they remarry. When the trust comes to an end, the property passes on to the children, ensuring that no-one is unfairly left out.

Speaking with a legal expert and arranging matters for after your death can avoid a great deal of distress during what will certainly be a very difficult time for your loved ones.

Rachel and the experienced team at Walker Foster Solicitors are dedicated to providing the very best legal services to clients at a fair price, and regularly advise on these sorts of circumstances.

For more information, contact Rachel Hanson who is based in Walker Foster’s Ilkley office on 01943 609969, or visit for details of their offices in Skipton, Barnoldswick, and Silsden.

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