The effect of marriage and divorce on Wills
Getting married is one of the happiest times of your life and preparing a Will probably isn’t at the top of your priority list when it comes to planning your big day. However, very few people realise that the act of marriage actually revokes any Will you have in place. This means that if you do not prepare a Will after your wedding, or make a Will in contemplation of your marriage, the rules of intestacy will dictate who receives your assets on death.
If you do not have children then your whole estate will pass to your spouse or civil partner which might not be a problem but if you do have children, the first £250,000 will pass to your spouse or civil partner with the remainder being split as to half to any children and half to your spouse or civil partner. This could cause a problem if, for example, you have entered into your second marriage and you have children from a previous relationship.
Strangely, the same rules revoking a Will on marriage do not apply on divorce. Once your divorce has been finalised and your Decree Absolute papers have been received, any mention of your spouse or civil partner in an existing Will would be treated as if they had predeceased you. If you have left your entire estate to your ex-spouse/civil partner and have not made any default provision then, if you have no children, the Intestacy Rules apply and will dictate who receives your assets. This could be parents, brothers or sisters and this might not be what you would wish to happen.
It is important that you consider your Will when you separate. Until the Decree Absolute has been issued, in the eyes of the law you are still legally married which means that any existing Will you have will be valid and if you were to die prior to finalising your divorce, you may end up leaving everything to your ex-partner.
If you would rather determine who receives your assets on death, you should consider making a new Will as soon as possible to ensure that your wishes are carried out.
For more information or help with this issue or a similar issue you can contact Kirsty Thistle.