Getting married or remarried
Marriage causes a major change in your legal status. It automatically revokes any Will that you may have made – unless you expressly state the Will is made in contemplation of getting married.
If you do not make a new Will then the rules of intestacy, based on an Act of Parliament dated 1925, dictate where your Estate will go. Depending on the value of your Estate, this could mean your new spouse inheriting everything – and your children and anyone else whom you wish to benefit receiving nothing at all or having to share your estate with your children and others.
Contrary to popular belief, getting divorced does NOT automatically revoke your Will.
Divorce has no impact on your existing Will whatsoever unless and until a Decree Absolute is made. Even then the Will is read as though the former spouse had died on that date and therefore potentially creates an intestacy or other problems.
If you die before the Decree is made Absolute then your (soon to be ex) spouse could still inherit your Estate either under your existing Will or the rules of intestacy.
One of the first things to do when separating is to review your Will and make the changes necessary to protect your estate for your children or other chosen beneficiaries.
At the same time, you should consider whether the former matrimonial home should be held as joint tenants or tenants in common.
If you hold as joint tenants and die before your estranged spouse, your home will automatically pass to such estranged spouse by survivorship, regardless of your Will or the rules of intestacy.
If you hold as tenants in common you hold a distinct share in the former matrimonial home – usually one half – which you can pass on under the provisions of your new Will.
What is the next step?
At MACKS we strongly recommend a face-to-face meeting with one of our specialist solicitors who will be able to explain things in greater detail and advise you on the steps to take following the change in your circumstances to achieve your specific wishes.