‘If my husband remarries after I die, how can I be sure he won’t change his will?’

Jul 12, 2019
Brian Herd says lawyers have dubbed the common worry that a spouse's new partner will deprive their children of their inheritance the 'Ken and Barbie syndrome'. Source: Getty

Q. How can I ensure my share of our estate is passed to our children, should I die before my husband and he remarries? Both my husband and I have wills that state that should one of us die, the other gets the estate. Hypothesising, if I die before my husband, he may remarry. Then if he dies, what happens to our estate? Should he do a new will after I have died, stating that his estate goes to our children?

A. We call your fear the ‘Ken & Barbie syndrome’. Generally speaking, your will is your will and you can change it anytime you like whether you’re married or not. However, because of increasing longevity, on the death of a spouse, the surviving spouse may live for a long time afterwards. The prospect of them re-partnering or finding a new Ken or Barbie, is real, with the result that so enamoured are they of the new love of their life, they changes their will.

There are various ways to address your concern. One way to address that concern is to do another document to go with your mutual wills called a ‘contract to make a will’ where you both agree not to change your wills without the consent of the other person or, if that other person has died, the executor of their estate. But, as usual, this should not be done without proper legal advice.

If you have a question for Starts at 60’s money experts, email it to [email protected].

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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