In England and Wales, your Will is automatically revoked when you get married. As such, it is vital to review, and if necessary, update your Will after marriage. Despite this, many people fail to do this. Often because they are not aware of the need to do so.
Unless your Will makes specific reference to your intended marriage (“in contemplation of marriage”), your Will will be automatically revoked after you get married or enter into a civil partnership. So, if you don’t take steps to protect your family and your estate, you could find that the law dictates who will inherit your money, property and possessions once you are gone.
What do the rules say?
A person who dies without a valid Will is said to die ‘intestate’. Under the rules of intestacy:
- If you are married and your estate is worth less than £250k, your spouse will inherit everything, even if you have children
- If you are married with children (not including stepchildren), and your estate is worth more than £250k, your spouse will inherit the first £250k plus personal belongings. Anything remaining is then split 50/50 between your spouse and your children. Your children will all inherit an equal share of this remaining 50%.
What about divorce?
While getting married automatically invalidates a Will, getting a divorce does not. But, if you end a marriage or civil partnership, your Will carries on as if your spouse has died. This means that they will not receive anything you have left to them in your Will, unless you expressly state that you still want this to happen. Likewise, if they are listed as an executor, they will no longer fulfil this role.
If you are planning to remarry following a divorce, the effect of your new marriage on your Will is the same as if you were marrying for the first time. So any Will becomes invalid as soon as your marriage takes place.
It is important to update a Will following marriage. But where second families are involved, the potential for dispute increases, so it becomes even more crucial.
The birth of children and grandchildren should also instigate a Will review, as well as the death of any beneficiaries. Changes to your finances, fluctuations in property values, tax amendments and a whole range of other factors could also mean that your carefully drafted Will no longer reflects your situation and wishes. This is why experts agree that, as well as reviewing your Will after any significant life event, it’s also worth doing every five years.
Drawing up a Will is not a one-time task. Speak to one of our expert team by calling 01634 353 658 or email [email protected] to ensure your Will is updated, and your wealth is passed on in line with your wishes.