How Divorce or Separation Affects Your Will
13 January 2017
A Will is one of the most important documents you will ever sign. It allows you to plan properly and to say who looks after your affairs after you’ve passed away, who should take care of your children, how you would like your assets to be distributed and other matters important to you.
If you die without a Will in place (known as Intestacy) the law decides which people receive your assets and this is determined in a fixed order of priority.
The Law in England & Wales
At present, English law states that if you are married or in a civil partnership then your spouse or civil partner is entitled to either the whole of your Estate or, if you have children, then the majority of your Estate. If you have no living family members, all your property and possessions will go to the Crown.
Divorce or the breakdown of any partnership can be a stressful time. The future is often uncertain so it’s easy to overlook the need to review your Will to understand whether any changes are needed. If you are, unfortunately, going through separation or divorce then it’s extremely important to know that, in the eyes of the law, you are still married until the marriage is brought to a legal end. This means that if you were to die before the final Court Order (Decree Absolute) or Dissolution is issued then:
- Any existing Will which benefits your spouse or civil partner continues to be in force; or
- If you do not currently have a Will in place, then your spouse or civil partner continues to be the main beneficiary from your Estate under the Rules of Intestacy.
For this reason, it's important to review and update your Will to ensure it's an accurate reflection of your wishes.