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

Certain landmark events in life, such as a marriage or divorce, can often mean that you will want to review any existing Will that you already have in place but some events can automatically revoke or affect a pre-existing Will.

How can a marriage or divorce affect my Will?

Marriage/civil partnership

If you make a Will and then marry or enter into a civil partnership, the starting point is that your Will is automatically revoked by that marriage or civil partnership.

That is unless your Will specifically states that you intend to marry or enter into a civil partnership with a particular named person and that your Will is not to be cancelled by that marriage or civil partnership.

At Nelsons, we generally advise our clients in these circumstances, whereby they are in a serious relationship but are not formally married or in a civil partnership, to consider including what we call a contemplation of marriage or civil partnership clause in their Will.

This would avoid a person’s Will from being cancelled if they were later to marry or enter into a civil partnership with the person named in the Will.

For example, if a person is terminally ill they may decide to marry their long-term partner. That marriage might then cancel their Will without them realising or perhaps having time to make a new Will.


If you divorce, then your existing Will is not cancelled. However, the divorce does have the effect that your former spouse will no longer act as an Executor, nor inherit from your Will.

Sometimes, a married couple may choose to judicially separate rather than divorce – for example for religious reasons. A judicial separation is a formal process, similar to a divorce, but doesn’t end the marriage. A judicial separation does not have any effect on a person’s Will.

If you are unmarried and separate from your partner, that separation has no effect on your Will. Therefore, any Will you have made leaving your estate to your ex will remain in force, unless and until you have cancelled it.

Also, it is worthwhile bearing in mind that if you include say sons-in-law or daughters-in-law in your Will and your children divorce, your Will is not affected by that divorce. Therefore, any appointment of the in-laws as Executors and any gifts to the in-laws will remain in force unless and until you change your Will.

You should therefore make sure you have your Will professionally reviewed in any of these circumstances.

Marriage Divorce WillHow Nelsons can help

Helen Salisbury is a Partner in our Wills and Probate team.

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