What happens to my existing Will after marriage, entering into a civil partnership, or divorce?

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Lots of people are not aware of the effects of marriage and divorce on their Will. Furthermore, many people do not think about their Will if they become separated. Here we explain what happens to your Will when you get married or divorced and why it is important to think about updating your Will if you become separated.

Marriage/Civil Partnership revokes a Will

Some people think that once a Will is made it remains valid forever and are unaware that marriage/civil partnership revokes any previous Wills. The only instance in which marriage/civil partnership does not revoke a Will, is if it is made in expectation of marriage or civil partnership to a particular person.

Revocation of a Will could mean that children from a previous marriage or relationship may not benefit from your estate. You may have made provisions for your children under your Will, but if you then get married that Will is revoked, and your estate will be dealt with under the intestacy rules. This could mean that your spouse may inherit everything depending on the value of your estate.

For example, Mary made a Will in 2005 leaving her entire estate to her three children from her first marriage. In 2010 she married David who had a child from a previous marriage. Mary never got round to changing her Will and unfortunately died a few years after she married David. Her entire estate including all her personal possessions passes to David.

David makes a Will after Mary’s death leaving everything to his child. This means that Mary’s children are left with nothing.

It is important to consider what will happen to your estate and to update your Will or make a new one after marriage/civil partnership. This will avoid complications in the future and ensure your children are protected.

Effect of divorce and separation on your Will

A divorce will not invalidate or revoke your Will.

The effect of divorce in your Will means that any reference to your former spouse will be treated as if your former spouse had died on the date your marriage dissolved. This is the date of the Decree Absolute. Therefore, if your ex-spouse is named as a beneficiary in your Will, he or she will not benefit from your Will.

A separation does not have any effect on your Will, as it does not end the marriage. Therefore, if you made a Will leaving everything to your ex-spouse, this will remain valid. This could mean that although you are in a new relationship and living with your new partner, your ex-spouse will still inherit your estate. Therefore, it is important to consider writing a new Will if you become separated.

If you wish to make a new Will or have your current Will reviewed, please contact us on 01279 295047 and we will be very happy to help you.

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