Wills – Divorce & Marriage
30 October, 2020
At Storrar Cowdry Solicitors we are supporting Resolution “Good Divorce Week” 2020.
Clients often ask “what happens to my Will on divorce or if I marry again?”
The effect of Divorce on an existing Will
There are two stages to legal divorce in England & Wales. Decree Nisi and then Decree Absolute. Decree Absolute is the final stage when the parties are legally deemed divorced.
When the Decree Absolute is made, any existing Will remains valid. However, any provision in that Will for your ex-spouse is changed so that the Will is read as if that ex-spouse had died before you. The ex-spouse does not inherit via the Will or act as an Executor. Gifts to any other persons in the Will remain in force.
The effect of a new Marriage/Civil Partnership on an existing Will
Marriage and or Civil Partnership revokes an existing Will so as soon as you say “I do” any existing Will becomes null and void. If you don’t go on to make a new Will before you die, the Intestacy rules will apply to your estate. The Intestacy rules are a rigid set of rules governing which relatives inherit, in what amounts and in what order. Often (but not always) the new spouse inherits the bulk of the estate. This can be a big issue with second marriages, particularly if there are children from previous relationships.
It is possible to make a new Will prior to a new marriage date that remains valid, if the new Will is stated to be made “in contemplation of my marriage to X”. Certain conditions apply and it would be wise to check with your solicitor if you are planning to do this.
What should I do?
Clients often ask “should I make a new Will now, to exclude my spouse, before our divorce is finalised?”
Most people don’t want the “soon to be ex” to inherit. However advice should be taken on the particular circumstances. Consideration needs to be given on a number of issues for example, in whose name are the assets? Is one of the parties in poor health? Would an excluded spouse be able to bring a claim against the estate for financial provision if death occurs before the divorce terms are finalised and assets allocated between the parties?
Wills can be complicated. It is important for divorcees to review their current Will or consider making a first Will. If a new marriage is on the horizon it is vital to plan ahead and to think about provisions for any children. For partners who start living together, it is crucial to have a Will in place as there is no automatic entitlement under the Intestacy rules for unmarried couples.
At Storrar Cowdry our specialist Solicitors can answer your questions about Wills and help you plan for your new future. For further information about Wills please contact Gill Knowles on 01244 400567 or email: email@example.com