How Does Marriage Affect My Will?
Posted on 20th April 2020
Getting married or forming a civil partnership after you have made a Will can revoke the final document, subject to certain exceptions. Our expert local solicitors for Wills have answered some FAQs about this topic, below.
Not having a valid Will means that a person's wishes may not be carried out after they die. This could be a person who dies without having made a Will, or simply without a valid Will in place (such as one that has been revoked by marriage or the formation of a civil partnership). This is known as dying “intestate”, meaning that the deceased has no say over how their Estate passes. A person’s Estate comprises of any property that they own, their personal possessions, and any money, investments or savings that they have, less any debts or testamentary expenses that may be payable out of their assets. Find out more information about debts and liabilities payable from an estate, here.
The only time when a Will may not be revoked by your marriage or civil partnership formation is if your assets are abroad and you have a foreign Will dealing with them; if you need advice in relation to a foreign Will, you should contact solicitors for Wills in the relevant country.
Why does marriage invalidate my Will? Why is my Will invalidated when I enter into a civil partnership?
Wills made before 1st January 1983 will be revoked by marriage under section 18 of the Wills Act 1837 (‘Every Will made by a man or woman shall be revoked by his or her marriage…’). Wills made on or after this date are revoked by the substituted Act: the Administration of Justice Act 1982 (‘a Will shall be revoked by the testator’s marriage’). This would mean that, if you die without making a new Will (or without making a Will in contemplation of marriage), your Estate would pass under the Rules of Intestacy (the relevant inheritance laws, which you can read about in our Solicitors for Wills’ blog, here).
Similarly, if you enter into a civil partnership after you finalise your Will, if the Will is not made 'in contemplation', it will be revoked.
If you don’t fancy reading about the full Rules of Intestacy, here’s a brief outline:
If your Estate is worth up to £270,000.00 (the current figure as of 20th April 2020) and you are married or in a civil partnership, the whole Estate would pass to your spouse or civil partner. If your Estate is worth more than this amount, the first £270,000.00 would pass to your spouse/civil partner, and the remainder of your Estate would be divided between your spouse or civil partner and children. Your spouse or civil partner would receive half of the remainder, and your children (or if they have predeceased you, their children) would receive the other half, in equal shares.
For the purpose of the Rules of Intestacy, only biological or adopted children would be included. If you want to ensure that your step children or foster children inherit from your Estate, you MUST ensure that you have a valid Will in place which names them as Beneficiaries.
How can I make sure I have a valid Will after marriage? How can I make sure I have a valid Will in place after my Civil Partnership formation?
If you know that you are intending to get married or enter into a civil partnership, you don’t have to wait until after this has taken place to get your Will finalised. Your local solicitors for Wills can include a clause to ensure that your Will remains valid after your marriage or civil partnership has taken place. This is known as making a Will ‘in contemplation’. Your local solicitors for Wills need to know the specific details of your intended marriage or civil partnership, including the name of your partner and, sometimes, when you expect your marriage or civil partnership to take place.
This option can be good for a couple who are engaged, but want to ensure that they have valid Wills in place before the big day takes place.
Unfortunately, if you are not yet with the person who you end up marrying or forming a civil partnership with, you cannot include a general clause in your Will to cover any future marriage or civil partnership. A general speculation of marriage or forming a civil partnership without specific details will not prevent your Will from becoming void if you get married or form a civil partnership in the future.
You can still ensure you have a valid Will in place, but if you get engaged, or after your marriage or civil partnership has been formed, you can make a new Will (although leaving it until you’ve got married or your civil partnership has been formed could leave you without a valid Will from the date of marriage or your civil partnership to the date your new Will becomes valid).
How does divorce affect my Will? How does dissolution of a civil partnership affect my Will?
Whilst getting divorced or dissolving your civil partnership will not invalidate your Will completely, your former spouse or civil partner will no longer be able to act as your Executor/Trustee or be a Beneficiary. For the purpose of your Will, your former spouse or civil partner will be treated as if they have predeceased you.
Once you have separated, you should review and update your Will to ensure that it’s a true reflection of your wishes.
If you want to include your former spouse or civil partner in your Will, you should contact our team of expert local solicitors for Wills to discuss your wishes and how this could be achieved.
Is my Will affected if I’m re-marrying? Is my Will affected if I'm forming a new civil partnership?
No matter if your marriage or civil partnership is your first, second or third, the effect that your new one will have on your Will is exactly the same as the first time: that is, your Will becomes void as soon as your marriage or civil partnership takes place.
If you have children from a previous relationship, civil partnership or marriage, you should ensure that you have a valid Will in place. Under the Rules of Intestacy, your Estate could pass in its entirety to your new spouse or civil partner (depending on the value), leaving your children without any inheritance. If you wouldn’t want this to happen, you need to ensure that you have a valid Will in place.
How can I make a new Will?
MG Legal - Your Local Solicitors
Share this post: