As a married couple (or civil partnership), what happens if one partner dies prematurely and the survivor remarries?

This is the most common question we are asked by customers of all ages! In short, if you have left everything to your partner in your Will or you jointly own the house or any other asset with them, the survivor receives what you leave them in your Will or the asset you jointly owned with them. However what if you want to ensure your children from this relationship or indeed a previous relationship inherit your share of the house for example? If you have left it to your surviving partner and they then meet a new partner, how can you guarantee that your children will get your share? This is why you need to be talking to us about trusts planning.

What happens to property in joint names?

People who co-own a property hold it either as “joint tenants” or as “tenants-in-common”. Husbands and wives are usually, but not always, joint-tenants. This means that when one of them dies the other one automatically becomes the owner of the whole of the property. If you own property as a joint tenant, you cannot gift your share of the property in your Will. Partners who have been married before often prefer to own the property as tenants-in-common. This means that when one of them dies his or her interest in the property forms part of his or her Estate. They can separately make a gift in their Will of their share of the property, perhaps to their own children from a previous marriage. These principles also apply to other jointly owned assets such as bank and building society accounts and other investments.

How can I avoid the council selling my home if I’m taken into care?

It is illegal to deliberately transfer your own property to relatives or trusts if your prime motive is to avoid paying long-term care costs. However, it is not illegal for you and your partner to each make a provision in a Will, that upon the first death, the deceased’s half-share of the family assets and/or home, is placed in trust for their children or other beneficiaries, instead of passing directly to the surviving partner. The Protective Property Trust has been specially designed for this purpose. It keeps the assets and/or share of the home owned by the deceased partner away from the council’s reach while at the same time allowing the surviving partner to continue benefiting from the assets and/or share of the home within the trust. On their death, the assets and/or share of the home owned by the trust together with whatever is left of the assets of the second partner can be given to the surviving family.