How Does Marriage Affect A Will?
Posted on 23rd June 2020
In England and Wales, any legally valid Will made before marriage will be revoked once a person marries, unless a specific reference is made in the Will to the person’s intended nuptials.
This means that, if you don’t make a Will in contemplation of your intended marriage or make a new Will after you get married, your Estate would pass under the Rules of Intestacy. You can read more about the Rules of Intestacy in our Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors’ blog, here. When a person dies without a Will, there Estate is known as ‘intestate’, so that person would have no say over how their Estate will be divided.
A person’s Estate includes any property that they own, money in their current or savings accounts, investments, personal possessions, shares and stock. Read more about Estates in our Probate Solicitors’ blog, here, or to find out more about how marriage and divorce affect a Will, read on.
Why does my Will become void after marriage?
As any new marriage is a legally binding contract, under marriage laws in England and Wales, any Will made prior to that marriage would be revoked. Therefore, if you don’t make a Will in contemplation of marriage or after you have married, the law dictates who would receive your Estate. These laws are known as the Rules of Intestacy.
The Rules of Intestacy distribute a person’s Estate as follows:
Firstly, to their spouse or civil partner and/or (biological or legally adopted) children. You can read about how this division would work in our local solicitors for Wills blog, here.
If there aren’t any surviving children (or remoter descendants, such as grandchildren or great-grandchildren) or a spouse/civil partner, the Rules then provide for a person’s parents, then brothers or sisters, then half-brothers/half-sisters, grandparents, then aunts or uncles, and finally half-aunts and half-uncles.
It’s important to note that if the deceased died intestate and had any of the above relatives who predeceased them leaving children, those children would inherit any share that their parent should have received.
For example, if the deceased died leaving no children (or grandchildren, etc), spouse or civil partner, and their parents had predeceased them, their siblings would be entitled to their Estate. If they had one surviving sibling, and another who had predeceased them leaving children, the Estate would be divided into two shares: one to pass to the surviving sibling, and the other to be divided between their other siblings’ children (so the deceased’s nieces and nephews).
If all of these provisions fail, many people would be under the impression that their friends could then apply for the money, or apply to give the money to charity. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If all of the Rules of Intestacy provisions fail, the deceased’s Estate would pass to the Crown. You can read more about this in our Probate Solicitors’ blog, here.
Can I make a Will before I get married?
Yes, you can make a Will before you get married. Depending whether or not you wish for it to remain valid after your marriage has taken place, will depend on whether or not you need to include any provisions to make your Will “in contemplation of marriage”.
To do this, the name of the person that you intend to marry needs to be included in your Will. This is a popular way of making Wills for people who are engaged, but want to put their Wills in place (and tie up all the lose ends) before they actually get married.
Our Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors in Preston would explain that if you just want to make a Will but you never want it to be void if you get married, making a Will in contemplation of marriage will not be an option for you. Any speculation of a potential marriage in the future without any specific details of the person that you intend to marry wouldn’t prevent your Will from being voided by your marriage. In this case, you would need to make a Will either once you had met the person that you intended to marry, or make a new Will once your marriage had taken place.
However, it’s worth noting that if you don’t intend to make your new spouse the beneficiary of your Will after you’ve married, this option could leave you without a Will for a period of time, until your new Will has been signed and witnessed to make it legally valid.
Do I need to make a new Will if I get divorced?
If you are getting divorced, although the finalisation of your divorce won’t void your Will as marriage would, your ex-spouse or civil partner will no longer be able to benefit from your Will as a Beneficiary, nor will they be able to act as your Executor or Trustee, if they are appointed.
For the purposes of your Will, your spouse will be treated as though they have died before you. This could seriously affect your Estate, and our local solicitors for Wills would always advise making sure that you update your Will after (or even during) your divorce, so that it’s still a true reflection of your wishes.
How does remarriage affect a Will?
Whether it’s your first time tying the knot, or you’ve walked up the aisle four times before, marriage (or re-marriage) would have the same affect on your Will; if it’s not made in contemplation of marriage, any new marriage would void your Will.
However, one difference with any second or third (or even fourth marriage) that you need to consider, would be whether your new marriage would void any previous Will that you had made, which made provisions for children of a previous relationship or marriage.
To prevent any issues for your children after you have died, you should consider contacting an expert Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors to discuss Estate planning, and making a new Will.
Alternatively, if you want to protect your assets from being taken by your new spouse or civil partner after you have entered into your new legally binding union, you may wish to consider whether a Prenuptial Agreement could assist you. To discuss making a Prenuptial Agreement and how much this would cost, contact our expert Family Law solicitors in Lancaster or Preston online, here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make a new Will to make sure that you are covered
Whether you are getting married, re-married, or are divorcing, there is no substitute for making a Will with experts. Our team of local solicitors for Wills offer expert Will drafting for just £140.00 plus VAT, which includes all the advice that you may need about making a new Will in the future, or protecting your Estate for your children.
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