When considering the financial and legal aspects of married life, one crucial question that often emerges is: “Do I need a will if I am married?” The answer is a resounding yes. Many people assume that marriage alone is sufficient to ensure that assets will automatically pass to their spouse upon their death. However, this is a common misconception. The reality is far more complex and highlights the critical importance of having a will, regardless of marital status. The rules below apply for all deaths after 26 July 2023.

Do I Need a Will If I Am Married?

The Legal Implications Without a Will

In the absence of a will, the rules of intestacy apply. These rules are a set of legal provisions that dictate how your assets will be distributed if you die without a will. In England and Wales, if you are married and die intestate, your spouse will receive all your personal possessions and the first £322,000 of your estate. The remainder of the estate will then be divided: half to your surviving spouse and half to your children, if any.

This automatic division might not reflect your personal wishes and could lead to significant emotional and financial strain on your family. For instance, if you intended a particular asset to go to a specific child or relative, this will not be possible under the rules of intestacy. Furthermore, if you have no children, your parents or siblings could inherit part of your estate, potentially reducing what your spouse receives.

Protecting Your Spouse’s Future

Creating a will ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. This is particularly important in scenarios where one spouse may not be financially independent. A will can provide the necessary financial support to maintain their standard of living. Without a will, your spouse might receive less than you would have wanted, or it could take longer for them to gain access to funds, adding to their grief during an already difficult time.

Complex Family Structures

If you have children from a previous relationship, or if there are step-children involved, a will is essential to clarify your intentions and to ensure that there are no misunderstandings or disputes between your spouse and other family members. A well-drafted will can specify guardians for minor children and make adequate financial arrangements, which might not align with the default intestacy rules.

Tax Planning Benefits

Another important aspect of having a will is the potential for tax planning. Inheritance tax can be mitigated with careful planning through a will. For instance, bequests to your spouse are generally exempt from inheritance tax (called the ‘Spousal Exemption’), but the way your estate is structured might further reduce any potential tax burden. Without a will, your estate may not be utilised in the most tax-efficient manner, potentially leaving a larger tax liability than necessary.

Peace of Mind

Ultimately, drafting a will provides peace of mind. Knowing that your affairs are in order, and that your loved ones will be taken care of according to your wishes, can relieve a significant burden. It also avoids placing additional stress on your spouse to make decisions or enter into legal processes at a time of loss.


In conclusion, the question of whether you need a will if you are married should unequivocally be yes. A will is not just a document for the wealthy or the elderly; it is a fundamental part of legal preparedness for anyone who wishes to ensure their assets are distributed as intended. Marriage does not automatically protect your spouse’s future nor does it ensure your wishes are fulfilled. Taking the time to draft a will with professional guidance is an act of care that protects your loved ones and upholds your personal and financial wishes after you are gone.

Remember, life is unpredictable, but the legacy you leave behind doesn’t have to be. Take the proactive step today to draft a will and secure your family’s future.

Our dedicated and friendly team of legal experts will advise you based on your personal circumstances and on your wishes. Ensure you’ve got things organised for your loved ones, call The Will Centre to book your appointment.