Marriage Automatically Revokes A Will

Rebecca Parr

A marriage or a civil partnership will automatically revoke (cancel) your Will unless your Will has been made “in contemplation of marriage”.

If you do not make a new Will once you are married or have entered into a civil partnership, your estate will be distributed under the rules of intestacy and your spouse or civil partner could be entitled to the entirety of your estate which may not be what you had intended, especially if you have children from a former marriage.

Under the intestacy rules, your new spouse or civil partner would be entitled to the first £250k of your estate (or all of it if you estate is worth less than £250k) and the residue would be split as to one half for your current spouse and the remainder between your children equally.  This could mean that your children could end up with very little, which may not be what you want.

It is therefore extremely important that you take advice if you have recently remarried or are intending to getting married in the future to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Divorce can also have an impact on your Will but strangely does not revoke it. Any gift to a former spouse or civil partner or appointment as an executor or trustee is treated as if they had died on the date the marriage ended (ie. on the date of the decree absolute) so that the gift or appointment no longer takes effect. You may think that this is okay, but matters can become complicated if your Will includes Trusts and you have appointed a former spouse/civil partner as a trustee or you own property as joint tenants.

You do not have to wait to amend your Will if you are going through divorce proceedings and you should take legal advice on updating your Will as soon as possible, especially if you have young children or own property.

If you need help drafting a Will, or if you need advice about the effects upon your Will of your marriage or divorce, then please do not hesitate to contact one of our private client team who would be very happy to assist you.