Do You Need to Update Your Will After Getting Married?

Have you ever considered how your marital status might affect the validity of your Will? At ELM Legal Services, we recognise the importance of understanding the legal implications surrounding marriage and divorce concerning your Will. It’s crucial to update your Will when these life events occur, ensuring your wishes are accurately reflected in your Estate Planning.

This article explores the details of these significant life events, offering you the knowledge to make well-informed choices for updating your Will and Estate Planning.

Marriage and Your Will

Automatic Invalidation:

  • When you marry in England or Wales, significant legal consequences extend to your existing Will.
  • Any previously valid Will is automatically invalidated unless it explicitly addresses the anticipation of marriage.
  • It’s more than just a technicality; it’s a vital aspect of the law that requires careful consideration.

The Importance of Regular Review:

  • Estate Planning is an ongoing process. Regularly reviewing and updating your Will is paramount to ensure its continued validity and relevance to your evolving life circumstances.
  • Failure to do so may lead to unintended consequences, such as the Rules of Intestacy dictating how your estate is distributed in the event of your passing.

In Contemplation of Marriage:

  • To safeguard your intentions, a Will made “in contemplation of marriage” includes a specific clause.
  • This clause covers essential details such as the full name of your future spouse, your intent to prevent the Will’s revocation upon marriage, and whether the validity hinges on the actual occurrence of the marriage.

Why Does Marriage Affect Your Will?

Legal Basis:

  • The legal foundation for the impact of marriage on your Will lies in Section 18 of the Wills Act (1837).
  • This section stipulates that marriage revokes any existing Will unless it was explicitly made “in contemplation of marriage.”
  • Understanding this legal framework is pivotal in navigating the intricacies of Estate Planning.

Speculation Not Enough:

  • Simply speculating about a future marriage without specific details about the intended spouse does not protect your Will from invalidation.
  • The law is precise in requiring a proactive approach, requiring explicit consideration and documentation.

Divorce and Your Will

Validity Remains:

  • In the event of divorce, your Will does not become null and void.
  • Section 18a of the Wills Act (1837) ensures the continued validity of your Will. However, what changes is how it takes effect.

Effect on Former Spouse:

  • Upon divorce, your Will treats your former spouse as if they had passed away on the date the Decree Absolute was issued.
  • This means your former spouse can no longer benefit from your Estate, and their roles as Executor or Trustee are also revoked.

Beneficiary Changes:

  • Any inheritance designated for a former spouse is automatically passed on to the following named Beneficiary as per your Will.
  • This safeguards your original intentions and ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.


  • The legal landscape allows for exceptions. If your Will explicitly states that your former spouse retains rights even after divorce, they can still act and benefit as any other individual mentioned in your Will.

Updating Your Will for Changing Circumstances

Marriage Preparation:

  • If you plan to marry, you should proactively update your Will. Including a clause that anticipates the union ensures that your Will remains valid once the marriage has taken place.

Divorce Precaution:

  • For those contemplating or going through a divorce, a thorough review of your Will is imperative.
  • Ensure that alternative Beneficiaries are designated, avoiding potential complications arising from unintended consequences.

Do You Need to Update Your Will After Getting Married?

Understanding how marriage and divorce impact your Will is a vital aspect of responsible Estate Planning. With the proper knowledge and proactive measures, you can ensure that your final wishes are legally protected. At ELM Legal Services, we are committed to guiding you through this intricate legal landscape, providing the expertise needed to secure your legacy.

Contact Us

For personalised guidance based on your specific circumstances, feel free to reach out to us at 0117 952 0698 or click on Contact Us. Alternatively, if you’d like to schedule a free first meeting, you can visit our Online Wills service page.

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