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What Happens To Your Will If You Marry Or Divorce? 08 January 2018

When you experience stressful times like going through a divorce, or exciting moments like planning a wedding, thinking about your Will is unlikely to be top of your list - but it is important to update your Will to reflect your changed circumstances, or you risk loved ones not inheriting your estate when you die.

Making a Will gives you the peace of mind to decide what happens to your estate when you die and the comforting knowledge that the individuals you want to inherit, will do so. Getting married is a massive change in your personal life, and any previous Will you may have made is likely to be void when you marry or enter into a civil partnership, meaning you lose the control to state who you want to inherit and to deal with your estate after your death. Similarly, with a divorce, updating your Will could avoid legal complications after your death and ensure that you can provide for those you love.

What Happens To Your Will If You Marry?

When you marry, your existing Will is automatically void in the eyes of the law (except for a Will made very shortly before your marriage and stated to be made with that marriage in mind) and if you die before updating it then your estate will be divided according to the rules of intestacy. Usually, this means most of your estate would pass to your spouse or civil partner.

What Happens To Your Will If You are Separated But Still Married?

If you are separated but not divorced, you are legally still married and nothing changes with regard to your Will - except of course if you want to make changes. Bear in mind that any new partners won't automatically inherit if you die and your spouse or civil partner would still inherit, if you die before updating your Will. Any individuals other than spouses or civil partners need to be named in your Will if you are to be certain that they will inherit.

If you don't have a Will in the first place and are separated, your spouse or civil partner would inherit under intestacy rules. If you are married without children, your spouse or civil partner would inherit your entire estate, even though you had separated, and if you are married with children then the first £250,000 of your estate would pass to your spouse or civil partner and the rest would be divided into two equal parts between your spouse or civil partner and your children, whose share would be held in equal parts until they turned 18.

What Happens To Your Will If You Divorce?

If your Will was written before you divorced, it is still legally valid but clauses relating to your ex-spouse or civil partner will be null and void. This is because the law treats your ex as though they had died when the marriage ended, and no mention of him or her will be honoured. Once again, the rules of intestacy might decide how your estate is divided up.

The Importance Of Updating Your Will

Having an up-to-date Will that reflects your current circumstances is important and is one of the most effective ways that you can protect your family and loved ones when you die. Making a Will enables you to state exactly how you wish your estate to be divided, and has the added benefit of avoiding many legal complications following your death.

For legal advice on making or updating your Will, please contact our specialist Wills and Probate solicitors at our Chorlton office on 0161 860 7123 or our Failsworth office on 0161 681 4005 or email