Are you going through a divorce? If so, this post explains why you should definitely consider revising your Will.
Effect of divorce on existing Will
When a person marries, or enters into a Civil Partnership, any Will already in existence automatically becomes invalid. However the reverse does not happen when a couple divorces.
Once a Decree Absolute (or Decree of Dissolution in the case of a Civil Partnership ) is granted your current Will, i.e. a Will made before your divorce, will still be valid. A spouse named in your current Will, will be treated as if they had died. This means that if they were named as an executor or Trustee this appointment will fail. Any gifts to them will also fail and either pass in accordance with the alternative provisions in your Will or, if there aren’t any, by the Rules of Intestacy.
However before the Decree Absolute or Decree of Dissolution is issued your Will remains in place in full.
A cautionary tale
In a recent matter I dealt with, a couple were divorcing. They already had a Decree Nisi issued by the Court. Unfortunately before the Decree Absolute was granted, the husband died, leaving his previous Will in place. This Will left everything to his wife. This meant that, despite the financial settlement of the separation being agreed, she then inherited everything including savings and the marital home in full.
In this particular case, the wife immediately agreed to waive her rights to the estate and her estranged husband’s family agreed to a distribution of the Estate on the basis of the agreed financial settlement. However, there was nothing to stop her refusing to take just the agreed amount and walking away with the estate more or less intact.
The moral of the story is that, perhaps even more so when children are involved, it is essential you receive advice not only on your separation and divorce but at the same time on your estate to ensure your wishes are made clear.
Here at BLB we have divorce specialists and private client specialists who collaborate closely to ensure all our clients’ needs are met.
If you would like any advice on the issues raised in this article, please contact James Trescothick-Martin, Associate Solicitor in the Private Client department, or Sarah Jackson, Head of Family Law at BLB Solicitors in Bath, Bradford on Avon and Bristol, on 01225 462871.
Image by Cory Doctorow under a creative commons licence