By Emily Hearn, Private Client Solicitor
Are you one of the many couples who have recently tied the knot? Perhaps you have your wedding date set (or re-set) for the not too distant future. Maybe you are invited to attend a ceremony as a guest as the wedding season soon approaches.
Did you know that by marrying or entering into a civil partnership this automatically revokes your existing Will? The revocation means that you will no longer have a valid Will in place.
If you die without having a valid Will you are said to have died “intestate”. This is where the law decides who, and how, certain individuals will inherit from your estate.
My Will has been revoked, what does this mean?
If you die without a Will, your estate follows the strict Rules of Intestacy.
This means if you die married or in a civil partnership and have no children, all of your estate will go to your spouse or civil partner upon your death.
If you die married or in a civil partnership but you do have children, the first £270,000 of your estate will go to your spouse or civil partner, along with any of your personal possessions. Anything over the £270,000 will then be divided with your spouse or civil partner receiving 50% and your child/children receiving the other 50%.
It is worth noting however that children under the Rules of Intestacy only includes your natural and/or legally adopted children. If you have step-children they are not accounted for.
Further, where the Rules of Intestacy apply, gifts to charities, friends or other family would not be made.
You can read the sorts of difficulties which can arise when you die without a valid Will here: https://www.heringtons.com/site/news/advising-alice
What you can do
It is possible to make a Will that is not automatically revoked when you marry or enter a civil partnership. This is where your Will is made with reference to the contemplation of your marriage or civil partnership to a particular individual with the understanding the marriage or civil partnership to this individual will not revoke your Will.
If you wish to have any say to what happens to your estate, review your Will straight away. If your Will has not accounted for your anticipated marriage or civil partnership, look to make a new Will without delay. Until a new Will has been signed, you will be bound by the Rules of Intestacy.
The above applies should you remarry or enter into a new civil partnership.
Divorce does not automatically revoke your Will. It does, however, treat your spouse or civil partner as having ‘died’ before you. The remainder of your Will then continues to take effect.
Disclaimer These rules apply to England & Wales at the time of writing.
For further advice contact Emily Hearn