Wills And Divorce
When you marry or register a civil partnership, your Will becomes invalid unless written in contemplation of that marriage or registration to a particular person. This means that if you have a Will, this is revoked when you form a marriage or civil partnership and on your death your estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. You should therefore make a new Will to ensure your estate is passed on according to your wishes.
What happens on divorce or dissolution?
On divorce or dissolution, Wills remain valid. However, the former spouse or civil partner is treated as if they were dead which has the effect of removing them from the Will completely. They will no longer be a beneficiary of your Will or an executor of your Will. The appointment of other beneficiaries and executors remain valid. This means that all or part of your estate could fall under the rules of intestacy, which is what happens when someone dies without leaving a Will.
What are the rules of intestacy?
Under the current rules of intestacy in England and Wales, the first £270,000 of your estate will go to your spouse or civil partner along with your personal possessions. Anything over £270,000 is then divided, with your spouse or civil partner receiving 50% and your children entitled to divide the other 50% between them. If a child has already died, their children will inherit in their place. If there is no spouse or civil partner, your children will inherit everything. Again, if a son or daughter has already died, their children will inherit in their place. If there is no spouse or civil partner and no children, the estate will be equally divided between your parents. If there are no parents, then it will be equally divided between your siblings. The intestacy laws in Scotland and Northern Ireland differ from those in England and Wales.
The rules of intestacy do not include common-law partners. If you live with your partner but are not married, on your death your partner will not automatically inherit anything unless you have a joint account together or you own property as joint tenants. Making a Will ensures that your partner inherits part or all of your estate, in line with your wishes.
When a marriage or civil partnership ends, you should make a new Will. If you are making a new Will before your marriage or civil partnership has legally ended, you should seek professional advice. Your spouse or civil partner may still be able to claim against your estate for reasonable financial provision should you die before your marriage or civil partnership legally ends.
Please note that this is general guidance only and not advice. The information given relates to the tax year the article was written and tax and legislation may change in future years.