Can a marriage or divorce affect your will?

Marriage effects on wills

Will affect after marriage or divorce issues. When you marry, any existing will is automatically revoked (cancelled) and becomes no longer valid.

If you do not make a new one, then when you die the law of intestacy decides how your assets are divided. Usually, your entire estate would go to your wife, husband or civil partner.

This may not be what you want for a number of reasons. So we suggest that you either make a will as soon as you marry, or beforehand – in anticipation.

If it is quite clear that you intend your new will to take effect after you have married, then it will be valid once you are. To make it clear, you need to include the words ‘in anticipation of marriage to [name]’ or alternatively ‘in contemplation of marriage to [name]’.

Divorce effects on wills

Many people assume that getting divorced cancels out any Will they made during their marriage.

When you divorce after making a will, your existing will remains valid but the paragraphs benefitting your former spouse are revoked. Specifically, all clauses giving your former spouse property or appointing your former spouse as the executor on trustee become invalid. The will is valid but is interpreted as though the former spouse died before you; any paragraphs involving your former spouse become ineffective but the rest of the will remains in force.

However, it is important to note that these rules apply only where the marriage is terminated by a divorce. These rules do not apply if a couple is separated but not divorced. Separation does not impact the validity of a will, because separation does not revoke your will or the portions of it that benefit your spouse, it is important to update your will if you do not wish to benefit your spouse.

Contact our specialist team today for further guidance on how a marriage can affect your will.

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