If you marry, then your Will automatically becomes invalid, unless it was made in contemplation of your marriage. This can cause problems if a new Will is not put in place. In this artcile we discuss marriage and wills.
When you are thinking of getting married, making a new Will is not usually a priority at what is usually a busy time. But it is part of the essential paperwork you should put in place to ensure that in the future, your estate will pass to those whom you wish to benefit from it.
What might happen if your Will is revoked by marriage
If you marry, then any previous Will you have made will no longer be valid, unless it specifically states that it was made in contemplation of the marriage.
This means that if you do not put a new Will in place, if you should die, your estate will pass under the Rules of Intestacy (the Rules). This could mean that family members whom you would have liked to leave money to could inherit nothing, or substantially less than you wished.
Dying without a Will is known as dying intestate. The Rules govern what will happen to all of your assets. If you are still married at the time of your death, the first £270,000 of your estate together with all of your personal possessions will pass to your spouse.
If you have children, then your spouse would receive half of the remainder, with your children sharing equally in the other half.
By way of example, if you have a spouse and three children and leave a net estate of £450,000, your spouse will inherit the first £270,000 plus half of the remaining £180,000, ie. £270,000 plus £90,000, totalling £360,000. Your three children would share the remaining £90,000, receiving £30,000 each.
The Rules do not make any provision for cohabiting partners or stepchildren, meaning they would inherit nothing.
To make sure that your loved ones are properly provided for, you should ensure that you make a new Will in contemplation of your marriage.
The effect of divorce on your Will
If you go through a divorce, then any gift left in your Will to your ex-spouse will fail, as if they have predeceased you. This means that the beneficiaries entitled to receive the residue of your estate will receive more. This might have been a charity or distant relative to whom you only intended to leave a modest gift.
A problem could also arise if your ex-spouse is named as an executor or trustee in your Will. Again, they will be treated as not existing, so a trust could fail if there is no other trustee named. This could result in difficulties for the beneficiaries of a trust who would no longer receive money you wanted them to have.
Reviewing your Will
By reviewing a Will at the time of any major life events, such as marriage or divorce, you can be sure that your loved ones will receive the assets that you want them to have when the time comes.
There may also be financial benefits to reviewing a Will, for example, arranging your estate to legitimately minimise the Inheritance Tax that will be payable.
At Elm Legal Services we can review your Will with you, ensuring that it accurately reflects your wishes. If your circumstances are complicated, we can explain your options to you and make sure any special provisions are included and that your Will is valid when the time comes.
By updating your Will, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that your family will be looked after when the time comes and that you have done all you can for them.
If you would like to speak to one of our specialist Wills and Probate lawyers, call us now on 0117 952 0698 or Contact Us and we will be happy to explain the options available to you without obligation.