What happens to your Will upon Divorce?
During or after the breakdown of a marriage life can become stressful, busy or sometimes exciting however the last thing anybody thinks about is their Will.
In 2018 according to a poll carried out by Macmillan Cancer Support, it was revealed that among 42% of UK adults did not have a Will. A further poll exposed that 1.5 million people may have unknowingly made their Will void by getting married or their Will still included a former spouse.
Divorce and a later re-marriage can affect your Will in different ways and so it is important to make sure that your Will is still in accordance to your wishes.
If you make a Will while married and then get divorced, your divorce can have an impact on the terms of your Will.
While your Will does remain valid, section 18a of the Wills Act 1837 states that if you divorce, your Will takes effect as if your former spouse had died on the date that the decree absolute was issued (died before you).
For some that may be relieving to hear as your former spouse would no longer be able to benefit from your Will and would also no longer be permitted to act as an Executor or Trustee of your Estate. This means that their entitlement will pass on to the next beneficiary, in line with the terms of your Will.
However, if everything had been left to your spouse and no other beneficiaries have been named, then your Estate would be distributed under the rules of Intestacy as you would have been deemed to have died without a valid Will in place. These rules are strict and place relatives in order of priority of who should benefit from the estate.
This order is as follows:
The highest existing and surviving relative will take priority. It is worth noting that if you have separated but are not officially divorced at the time of death then your former spouse could still benefit from your Estate.
What will happen when you want to move on in life and remarry?
Section 18 of the Wills Act 1837 revokes your existing Will in the event of the marriage unless the Will is made in expectation of marriage to a particular person.
Preparing to get married again can be eventful but majority of couples are not aware that getting married or entering a civil partnership will automatically revoke a Will that you made prior to that marriage. This is extremely important where both you and your new spouse enter the marriage with assets which you may wish to protect for someone else i.e. children from your previous marriage.
In the event that you remarry and do not update your Will, the rules of intestacy will apply to your Estate and your assets might not end up where you wanted them to.
Certain life events should trigger a review of your Will. If you are in the process of getting a divorce, or if you are divorced and you’re planning to remarry, then it’s important to understand the impact that this will have on your existing Will.
At Walker Solicitors our team of experts can help you make sure your loved ones get the full benefit of their inheritance.
While thinking, talking or planning for death may not be ideal or comfortable, you should consider issues your loved ones will face after you have died. Seek the assistance of a legal professional to review your existing Will or create a Will. Trying to make your own Will could lead to mistakes or lack of clarity meaning your Will could become invalid.
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