It’s vital to have a valid Will if you want to ensure your estate is distributed according to your wishes rather than the rules of intestacy when you die – and to keep the validity of your Will when you get married, or enter into a Civil Partnership, you need to review it.
It may be that you’ve been very efficient and ensured both you and your soon-to-be spouse or civil partner have Wills before the big day. However, there is a big difference, legally speaking, between having a Will that was written before you were married and one that was written afterwards.
This is because the law on Wills in England and Wales states that marriage, or entering into a civil partnership, invalidates a Will unless it is clearly stated within the Will that it was written in contemplation of that marriage or civil partnership.
A Will That Was Written Before Marriage
If you have a Will drafted before your wedding day, you must ensure you do one of the following:
- Make sure you state in your Will that it is written in contemplation of marriage
- Review your Will and sign a new version once married
Your Will becomes null and void the moment you say “I do”, if you don’t either include the key statement of marriage contemplation within your Will or review and alter your Will after your wedding day.
If your Will becomes null and void, your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy rather than your Will.
Without A Valid Will
The implications of intestacy law can be devasting for families and loved ones.
If something happens to your spouse or civil partner and you are widowed, you may still inherit under the intestacy rules.
However, estates are rarely clearcut these days and there are many factors that can cause complications when it comes to inheritance, including:
- Children of previous partners
- Property held jointly with others
- Beneficiaries not being family members
As the surviving spouse, you may not be entitled to the full estate if children from previous relationships are involved. It may also be that express wishes within the now-invalid Will on funeral arrangements or certain friends inheriting anything are not acted on – it may be that family members not included in the Will become entitled or those included in the Will become unentitled.
Not having a valid Will means no certainty and can lead to disagreements at an already difficult and sad time.
If both you and your spouse died, there would then be two estates to be distributed according to intestacy rules, and it could be that beneficiaries lose out while those not chosen inherit.
To ensure your wishes are carried out after you die, you need to have a valid Will.
How Should You Ensure You Have A Valid Will After Marriage?
To ensure you’re protected by a legally valid Will, you should review your Will after marriage or write a Will if you didn’t have one before marriage.
If you made a Will in contemplation of marriage then this should be valid and no changes should be needed. Make sure the details of your marriage have been included in the Will, though. You may still prefer to sign a new version to be on the safe side.
Drafting Your Will The Right Way
A Will ensures that your wishes are carried out when you die – so it’s vital to make sure you have a valid Will.
Wills should be reviewed every 5 years, as circumstances change. If you’ve recently been married then you will need to review and alter your existing Will or draft a new Will.
Our Wills and probate solicitors have the experience and understanding of this area of law to help you – either to review your Will or to write a new one. We will be happy to advise you on the best way to protect your assets and take care of loved ones in the future, as well as to make sure your wishes are carried out.