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The Effects Of Divorce On Your Will

Amy Peters
03 June 2021 23 min read

ONS estimates a 42% of divorce rate in the UK, and with over 100,000 divorces every year then there are many couples and families who need reliable and trusted financial advice and support at a difficult time.

Preparing to get married is an exciting time that involves lots of planning, but many couples often overlook their Wills. Many people are not aware that when you get married, or remarried then any existing Will is revoked. So planning for the future and family is essential.

For most people, when going through a recent break-up, making a Will is the last thing on their mind, but if there is already a Will in place then this is unlikely to be appropriate for your new circumstances and it is advisable to update it sooner rather than later, particularly with family and children involved.

If you think that Wills are complicated you are not the only one however, you should not be confused by Wills.

If you are separated

Separation can occur for many reasons and can create a huge change in a person’s life. If there is a Will then it’s important to remember that though separated, from a legal perspective you are still married and so nothing has changed where the Will (and wishes depicted) is concerned.Therefore your spouse can still inherit, regardless of how long the separation has occurred for.

If there is no Will in place, then intestacy laws still apply and your spouse can still inherit. If you have children then it is feasible for both your spouse and children to inherit in equal shares. Any new partner will not necessarily be provided for unless they go to court, or unless a new Will has been created.

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If you divorce

Once divorced then certain financial matters may well have been looked after, but matters regarding the estate could still be complicated and cause issues. Any Will that was created during the marriage can still be valid, and any new partner may not be accounted for.

As a married couple it is common to appoint a partner as the executor of a Will, after a divorce the Will is still valid but your ex-spouse’s role as executor of the Will is automatically cancelled. In addition, the 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.

But there are a few considerations:

  1. Beneficiaries: If your ex-partner was entitled to the majority of the estate in a Will then it is recommended that a new beneficiary is appointed. It’s also important to consider that your own children can always inherit, whereas step-children or a partner’s children can only inherit if it is part of a Will.
  2. 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.
  3. The ex-spouse: You can still leave assets to your ex-spouse if you wish. If there is a financial obligation to them then this should be taken into account when a new Will is written.
  4. Inheritance Tax: During a marriage, a partner would have been exempt from Inheritance Tax (IHT). However, any estate will now only have a tax-free limit of £325,000 unless the beneficiary is a new spouse.
  5. Guardianship: It may also be particularly important to appoint a guardian in the event of the your death. Both parents should ensure that there is someone to take care of any children in their place. Usually, the appointment of a guardian won’t take effect where there is a surviving parent, but where following divorce proceedings a residence order has been made in favour of the parent appointing the guardian, the appointment will take effect on that parent’s death.

What happens to a Will if you get remarried?

Similar to the situation when you get married 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.

Whatever the circumstances, reviewing your Will or getting a Will created can be crucial to help make sure wishes are met and the right beneficiaries are stipulated.

We can help make sure you have the right future planning in place to suit your circumstances, ensuring all aspects are considered and provided for.

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