2010 - 2017
Making a Will is not about wealth it is about making sure that what you want to happen to your estate does happen. It gives you the opportunity to specify such things as who will administer your estate, who will care for your children and who will receive specific items of your property.
As we shall see there are very few people who cannot benefit from your will but the way you describe the recipients of your estate is important. In describing people in your will the same caveats apply as with describing your assets.
Obviously the children of your marriage can benefit from your will and your spouse's will. Indeed they will be entitled to complain if you omit to mention them.
Stepchildren need to be specifically named if you wish to benefit them. The law does not regard them as entitled to anything as of right so they will not be included in a gift referring to your children.
It may be that you live with someone without being married to him or her.
Perhaps you both had children before you met and both sets of children live with you. To complicate matters further you may have gone on to have other children together.
If you make a will stating that you leave everything to your children only your own children will fall within the definition 'my children'. In the scenario above these would include the subsequent children but not your other half's children from a previous relationship: Even if you have married, your stepchildren will not be included as your children.
If you have lived with them for a long time you may well regard them as your own children to all intents and purposes. It is therefore easy to overlook the need specifically to name all children other than your own. In any event, it is far better to name all your children rather than to use a generic description.
This ensures that the executors are aware of the existence of all of them. I have dealt with more than one case where a child attempted to conceal a parent's death from a brother or sister.
Note: People often seem to have difficulty distinguishing between the terms stepsister and half-sister, etc.
If you are making a will to include your siblings the distinction is very important.
A half-sister is one with whom you share a common biological parent; a stepsister is one who has two entirely different parents. From the biological parent's point of view your half-brothers and half-sisters will fall within the definition 'my children' but the stepbrothers and stepsisters won't.
In an intestacy situation brothers and sister of the whole blood are preferred to brothers and sisters of the half-blood which is another reason that the intestacy rules can often operate unfairly.