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

Jul 12, 2019
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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 information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not financial product advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decision you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from an independent licensed financial services professional.

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