The Effects That A Marriage Or Divorce Can Have On A Person’s Will

Money-saving expert Martin Lewis has recently commented on the effects of both marriage and divorce on someone’s Will and estate which highlights the importance of ensuring your Will is up to date when major life events happen as well as reviewing them every five or so years.

Does marriage affect your Will?

The effect of marriage on a Will is that it automatically revokes it unless you have a specific clause in the Will to state it is to be valid whether or not you marry your partner. This is important to remember, especially in circumstances where it is a second marriage and you have children from a previous relationship. In this scenario, your estate would pass through intestacy.

If there are surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the person who died and the estate is valued at more than £270,000, the surviving spouse will inherit:

  • All the personal property and belongings of the person who has died;
  • The first £270,000 of the estate; and
  • Half of the remaining estate.

A correctly drafted Will can ensure that both your spouse and children would be protected and inherit from your estate to try and avoid any contentious issues.

Does divorce revoke a Will?

The effect of divorce on a Will differs from a marriage. Once a divorce is finalised, the Will still remains valid however your ex-spouse would be treated as having died in your lifetime so the default provisions would apply. If no default provisions have been included in your Will, your estate may still fall into the intestacy provisions.

If a beneficiary’s spouse is named in your Will and they subsequently get divorced, there would be no effect on your Will and they would still potentially inherit from your estate.

Pensions, life policies and death-in-service benefits

When the type of products, as mentioned above, are taken out, often a beneficiary is nominated or an expression of wishes is made which confirms who you would want to inherit. These types of products often do not fall into your estate to be distributed in accordance with your Will and will pass directly to that nominated beneficiary which can be a useful inheritance tax planning tool.

Divorce or marriage, however, does not change these expressions of wishes and it is vital that you ensure these are up to date if one of these life events occurs as your ex-spouse may be entitled to these monies if they are still named.

It is always important to take expert legal advice when preparing or reviewing your Will and also on estate planning matters.

Marriage Divorce Will

How Nelsons can help

Davina Charlton is a Senior Associate in our Wills, Trusts & Probate team.

For more advice on how a marriage or civil partnership, divorce or separation could affect your Will, then please contact Davina or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.

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