The Taylor&Emmet Blog

WILLPOWER: Modern extended families

Our wills and probate experts answer your questions about making or reviewing a will. If you have a query you would like them to address, email

If you’re part of a modern extended family, your will needs to reflect your unique circumstances. This month, Richard Barlow explains more…

My wife and I each have children from previous marriages. How should we structure our wills to make sure they are provided for when we die?

It is, of course, preferable to keep wills relatively straightforward, but in these circumstances, to do so may not be beneficial.

For example, to state on the first death that the whole of the estate will pass to the surviving spouse and on the second death it will be divided equally between the children, could cause issues long term.

Problems arise if, after the first death, the surviving spouse’s relationship with his or her step-children deteriorates. In theory you or your wife could subsequently change your will to their detriment.

In your situation, you need to strike a balance between providing for your respective children on the first death and ensuring the surviving spouse is financially secure.

It may be advisable for your wills to create a trust on the first death. By doing so, the surviving spouse can receive benefit from certain assets (an income) and ownership can pass to all of the children on the second death.

There are various forms of trust that can be incorporated into wills and I would recommend contacting one of our probate specialists to discuss which would be most appropriate for you.

I am concerned my son has a drug dependency and currently, I wouldn’t want him to inherit my estate outright. What can I do?

In these circumstances it would be advisable for the estate (or your son’s share) to be managed by someone on his behalf.

A discretionary trust can be built into your will to protect your son’s entitlement, which means his inheritance is held by the trustees and funds released as they see fit.

You should prepare a letter of wishes to support the trust and provide guidance to the trustees about its purpose and how it should be managed.

While ever funds remain in the trust, they do not belong to your son and he has no direct access to them. If the trustees feel a sum of money should be released to him, they can make the appropriate arrangements.

I have two daughters, but my relationship with one of them has broken down and I want to exclude her from my will. Can I do this?

Yes, provision can be made for whomever you wish in your will. If you want to exclude someone, you can do so.

However, it is possible that after you have died your estranged daughter could seek to make a claim against the estate, if she feels provision should have been made for her.

In these circumstances we would advise you to prepare a side letter explaining in as much detail as possible the reasons for excluding your daughter. This can be kept with your will and if necessary, can be very useful in defending any potential claim.

Making a will is simple and not as expensive as most people think. Why not book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our probate specialists to find out more? Telephone (0114) 218 4000, email: or complete this form.


Richard Barlow

Richard is a partner in our wills, probate, tax & trusts team in Sheffield. Richard worked at a local Sheffield firm for 9 years following qualification in 2000 and subsequently for 9 years at a Chesterfield based firm. For more information on this topic email or call him on 0114 218 4000.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.