May 29, 2020

Updating Your Will During a Divorce

Written by Amy Matthews

Some people say that if you ignore something for long enough, then it will go away. However, sometimes the past will keep coming back to say hello. Which is why at Peter Lynn and Partners, we aim to prevent legal problems.

Often once a Will is drafted, years pass by without it being reviewed – after all, it is a necessary but unpleasant topic to have to consider.

Many married couples will opt to leave everything to each other upon one of them passing and then, to children, grandchildren or extended family members when the surviving partner passes away.

Unfortunately, not all marriages last and latest statistics show that just under half of all marriages (42%) end in divorce.

So what happens if you do not update your Will after a decri absolute has been issued and your divorce is finalised?

For legal purposes, the person you have divorced is treated as predeceased, i.e. they will not be classed as an automatic beneficiary of your estate.

To that end, if you have not updated your Will after your divorce, when you pass away, your estate would be administered in line with intestacy rules.

In plain terms, if your Will does not account for a person or persons to inherit after your spouse, it would have the same effect as though you had not made a Will at all.

To that end, while your estate may be automatically divided between any remaining next of kin, it will not be done in a tax-efficient manner, and the inheritance they receive may not be in line with your wishes. What happens if you have separated from your spouse, but the divorce has yet to finalise?

From a legal standpoint, – you are still married.
Therefore, any inheritance that your spouse was due to receive under your Will would be legally theirs.

It is therefore imperative that you update your Will upon a split from your spouse to ensure that they do not end up inheriting from you should you pass away before the divorce has been finalised.

If new Wills are not drafted upon separation, this means that your children may not be catered for in your existing Wills. This is especially prevalent if you have children from previous marriages and wish to ensure that they inherit from your estate.

Therefore, if a married couple separate, you should each think about making new wills as soon as possible. You do not have to wait until the decree absolute has been granted, and indeed it may be imprudent to wait until this in any case.

Even if you do manage to reconcile your marriage, the Wills can easily be reverted to their previous formats with a relatively straight forward update.

For advice on Divorce, Wills, LPAs, Trusts or any other legal matter, contact our team of experts.

Our experts are able to offer advice and help you through this challenging period without the need for a face-to-face meeting.
Call 01792 450010 or email [email protected]