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Does Marriage or Divorce affect my Will?

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It is easy to forget your legal status as a newly married couple. The hours of planning and excitement of the big day almost always results in couples overlooking the impact of marriage on any Will they may each have in place.

 

What happens if I have a will?

Most people are unaware that marriage automatically revokes any existing Will which you already have in place (unless the Will expressly states that it has been made in contemplation of the marriage). What this means is that the Will is then no longer valid.

Getting married can also change what happens to your estate if you die without having a valid Will. Children from a previous relationship can suddenly find that they no longer inherit from their parent and couples who marry later in life with no intention of combing their finances can inadvertently leave everything to the other rather than their respective children.

 

What happens if I get divorced?

Divorce does not revoke your Will in the same way as marriage does. However, any gift to your former spouse will automatically lapse once a divorce is granted (unless the Will provides otherwise).

 

What if you don’t make a new Will?

If your Will is revoked as a result of getting married, or you die without having made a valid Will then you are considered to have died “intestate” and your estate will pass in accordance with the “Intestacy Rules” so that:

  • If you are married when you die, your spouse will inherit the first £322,000 of your estate and all your personal possessions. The remainder of your estate will be divided with half going to your spouse and the other half being shared equally between your children you have. If you have no children, then your spouse will inherit all of your estate.
  • If you are no longer married, your estate will be distributed equally between your children. If you have no children, then the intestacy rules list the order in which other relatives will inherit your estate.

 

Important considerations

I always advise my clients to have a Will prepared, or an existing one reviewed, after significant life events such as marriage or divorce. Remember that marriage revokes an existing Will (unless it was made in contemplation of the marriage) and divorce revokes any gifts to the former spouse in the absence of contrary intention. So, in all cases I recommend my clients to specialists in the field of Wills to ensure that their wishes are met and so that proper estate planning minimises the tax payable. Contact us for more information.

Anthony Vingoe

Specialist Financial Remedy Solicitor

 

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