According to latest data from the Office of National Statistics, there were 245,513 marriages and 107,071 divorces in England and Wales in 2017. Given these figures it is useful to consider what happens for the couples who already have Wills in place when their circumstances change. We take a look at how marriage and divorce affect both you and your partner’s Wills.
Preparing to get married is an exciting time that involves lots of planning, but many couples often overlook their Wills. It might surprise you to know that when you get married your Will is automatically revoked, and so it is worth sitting down with your partner and reviewing your existing plans. This is especially crucial if you intend to leave some of your assets to someone else such as a child or grandchild.
If you do not draw up a new Will after you marry, the rules of intestacy will kick in which means that your assets could be distributed in a way which is not in line with your wishes.
What happens to my Will if I get divorced?
In the case of divorce, your Will is still valid but your ex-partner’s role as executor of your Will is automatically cancelled. In addition, your Will would be read as if your former spouse had died on the date the decree became absolute, and therefore the rules of intestacy will apply to the share they would have received.
As a result, there are a few factors you will need to consider:
Beneficiaries: If your ex-partner was entitled to the majority of your estate in your Will then you will need to appoint a new beneficiary.
Executors: The best action to take is to appoint more than one executor. An executor must be over 18 years of age and can be the beneficiary if you prefer.
Including ex-spouse: Of course, you can still leave assets to your ex-spouse. If you have a financial obligation to them then you should take this into account when writing your new Will to limit the success of a claim being made by them after your death.
Inheritance Tax: During your marriage, your partner would have been exempt from Inheritance Tax (IHT). However, your estate now only has a tax-free limit of £325,000 unless the beneficiary is a new spouse.
What happens to my Will if I get remarried?
Similar to the situation when you marry for the first time, if you remarry your current Will is revoked. If you do not draw up a new Will, then your estate will be divided under the rules of intestacy. Usually this means your estate will be split between your spouse and your children. If you do not have children, your estate will go to your spouse.
If you are just getting married or are going through a divorce, it is important to take advice. For expert advice on amending or drafting a Will please contact us.