Well-done If your one of the 46% of the UK adult population that has taken the sensible step to put a Will in place. However, that isn’t the end of the matter. You need to review your Will every 5 years due to inevitable changes to , assets, estate and life in general. Of course, if you get married or divorced, two huge life changing circumstances, you will most definitely need to re-look at your Will.
Its quite surprising how many of us forget to alter our Wills, upon marriage and divorce. Such situations mark huge, life changing circumstances and – with all that such ‘seismic’ events bring, its ‘easy’ to overlook or even put off reviewing our Wills.
You need to know that any Will that was in place at the time of your nuptials, is automatically revoked upon marriage. If you passed away without a Will in place at all, your estate would pass by the intestacy rules and of course, this wouldn’t take into account any wishes you had for your estate and this is important if you have children from a previous relationship.
If you are planning to get married, you can include a clause relating to your forthcoming marriage, stating that your Will should not be revoked – maintaining the validity of your Will. This also applies to Civil Partnerships. However, it always pays to have a frank and meaningful conversation with your intended, regarding your estate and Will intensions. This avoids ‘nasty’ surprises and the chances of your Will being challenged. This isn’t a pleasant experience for any family.
If you are marrying and have amassed a certain degree of pre-marital wealth and have children from previous relationships, you might want to consider, at the same time as your new Will, a Prenuptial Agreement. Such agreements not only seek to protect your assets in the event of a divorce, but also, they can express what you would like to happen to your estate and assets in general – upon your death. Whilst such agreements are not legally binding in the UK, the UK courts are giving increased consideration to ‘professionally – legally drafted and agreed documentation; indeed, there have been one or two ‘land-mark’ cases in the UK where such agreements have been upheld.
In relation to divorce, if you had a valid Will in place with your partner as a beneficiary and your divorce becomes finalised, your now ex-partner would be treated as having pre-deceased you. In most circumstances, any ‘gift’ to a former spouse would fail and potentially be passed to secondary beneficiaries or even intestacy if the Will isn’t especially clear or carefully planned. It might be the case that you don’t necessarily wish to exclude your ex-spouse; particularly if there are joint children involved.
It always pays to get divorce / joint finances agreed and settled as soon as possible in order to give you a firm grasp on the extent and value of your estate. This makes Will planning more straight forward. Furthermore, once your finances are settled, you need to put in place a ‘Financial Clean Break Order;’ this prevents your ex making any future claims on your assets thus protecting the integrity of the post – divorce Will.