Your Will at separation or divorce
A divorce or separation is a very time consuming and emotionally taxing circumstance. The last thing you would want to do in this situation is worry about whether your Will is up to date. However, not considering your Will could end up being rather costly to you and your intended beneficiaries.
It is common for spouses to be an executor and main beneficiary of each other’s Wills. So when you decide that the relationship is no longer working, it is likely that you will no longer want your spouse to benefit from your assets in the event of your death or be in charge of them. Accordingly, your Will would need to be reviewed as soon as you have made the difficult decision to part ways.
A divorce is not considered as valid until a decree absolute is granted. Should anything happen to you during the interim, your old Will remains valid and your estate would be administered accordingly. This means that your ex-spouse can still inherit from your estate.
A separation has no legal status without a court order. It also doesn’t invalidate your Will. A divorce also does not invalidate an existing will. If the previous Will remains unchanged following a divorce, any gifts to your ex-spouse will fail but this does not necessarily mean that all unwanted consequences are avoided. The assets in your Will intended to originally pass to your ex-spouse may be governed by intestacy rules which may conflict with how you would have wished these assets to be distributed. Furthermore, if your ex-spouse was the named executor of your estate or one of them, this may mean that you are left without an executor and left to the law to decide who will be responsible for your assets. .
We would therefore strongly recommend that you put a review of your Will at the top of your to do list if you do find yourself amidst a martial dispute.