Should I make a Will if I get divorced and what happens if I don’t?

If you’ve recently divorced or dissolved your civil partnership, updating your Will should be your top priority – unless of course, you want your ex to inherit?

Many people simply assume that by getting divorced any Will made whilst still married automatically becomes invalid. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and not making a new Will could lead to serious consequences for your estate.

Divorce doesn’t revoke a Will. Any current Will remains valid, but in terms of any inheritance, your ex is treated as if they had died when your marriage or civil partnership was dissolved. They will no longer be able to benefit from your estate unless you have specifically stated otherwise. They can no longer act on your behalf as Executor or Trustee either.

If your Will hasn’t been updated to reflect your new marital status, you risk your estate being shared differently to how you imagine it would. With your ex’s name being unchanged following divorce, the Rules of Intestacy come into play and this means that whatever your ex was going inherit would then be passed on to your next beneficiary.  If you don’t update your Will after divorce, your estate could be treated as if you never had a Will at all. In these circumstances, the courts will decide which relatives will inherit from you in strict order of priority. This is something that you may not want to happen and it could certainly jeopardise any inheritance you’ve got planned for the rest of your family especially for new partners or other dependants.

What happens if we are just separated but still legally married? Can I exclude my spouse from my Will?

Yes. You can leave your estate to whoever you want to. If you separate, but are still legally married, then your Will remains valid and your spouse will be entitled to inherit as set out in the terms of the Will. If you don’t want your spouse to inherit, but you are not legally divorced, then it’s important to write a new Will stipulating your new wishes and it would be wise to inform your executors in case your spouse decides to make a claim under the Inheritance Act.

What happens to my old Will if I remarry?

Should you remarry after divorce, any existing Will you had in place will be revoked altogether unless you wish otherwise – which is rare! If you don’t make a new Will and you die,

then your estate will be dealt with by the Rules of Intestacy as mentioned above, leaving your new spouse unprotected.

Here at Sheryl Perry Solicitors we are experts in getting you the divorce you need, but we don’t just leave it there. We want you and your family to be as protected as possible and that’s why we when we undertake a divorce on your behalf, we sever any tenancy to ensure your ex cannot benefit by survivorship, only through a valid Will. We also have the added expertise of partnering with Sovereign Wills and Estate Planning to ensure that your Will reflects your wishes in the next stage of your life.

If you are considering divorce or just starting proceedings, we are here to help and welcome you to arrange a FREE informal consultation with Sheryl Perry, our divorce expert and/or Sue Byrne from Sovereign Wills and Estate Planning to protect your estate and your beneficiaries. 

Contact us today and make an appointment on 01245 463243 or email sheryl.perry@sherylperrysolicitors.uk

To contact Sue Byrne at Sovereign Wills and Estate Planning call 01245 460383 or email sue@sovereignestateplanning.co.uk

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