Have you ever considered how your relationship status affects your will? Marriage, separation, divorce and reconciliation all have an impact on your final wishes and can have unexpected consequences that are often overlooked.
Here we provide a simple overview of some common situations that could have implications on wills.
Marriage or civil partnership can invalidate your will, even if it was not your intention. Measures can be made to avoid such a situation including putting a will in place which is made in contemplation of marriage to a specific person.
If you didn’t have a will in place before marriage, your estate would pass under the intestacy rules, this could mean everything would go to your new spouse. This might not have been your intention, especially if you had children from a previous relationship who you wanted to be the main beneficiaries of your estate.
If you separate from your spouse or civil partner, it has no effect on your will, it will remain lawful and any gifts and provision for your ex-spouse will remain valid.
If you are separated, but not divorced, then you should update your will to ensure your interests are protected. Even if you do not have a will, you should put one in place, as whilst you are still married or in a civil partnership your spouse would be the main beneficiary of your estate under the intestacy rules.
Following the decree absolute or final dissolution order, your will remains valid, but any mention of your former spouse will be automatically cancelled. Your will takes effect as if your former spouse died before you.
If your will only provides for your spouse, your estate may be subject to the intestacy rules which could mean someone (such as your parents) end up benefitting from your estate, even if this is not your intention.
If you reconcile with your former spouse any provision in your will relating to them is still automatically invalidated, unless your will was made following your divorce or dissolution.
Though you might not have thought about it when your relationship status changed, it is always important to review your will following a life changing event.
For advice on this please contact the Trusts, Wills and Estates team at Raworths on 01423 566 666 or contact Katie on firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on 22 November 2019