In the first of a series of articles about when a new Will needs to be made, Solicitor Vanessa Swales looks at what effect marriage has on a Will.
It is always good idea to review your Will from time to time. However, this is all the more important when your personal circumstances change as certain life events should always trigger a re-assessment of your estate planning. Getting married is one of those key events and with the royal wedding only a few weeks away, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will undoubtedly have been advised to update their Wills.
Marriage automatically revokes a Will
Many people do not realise that getting married (or entering into a civil partnership) automatically revokes an existing Will. This means that once you marry, any Will made previously (that wasn’t specifically made in contemplation of that marriage) will become invalid.
It is the Wills Act 1837 that invalidates Wills made prior to marriage. The Act is based on the principle that marriage is such a significant event in a person’s life that it substantially changes their personal relationships and financial circumstances to the extent that the provisions of any previous Will should be ignored.
What happens if my Will is invalid?
If you do not have a valid Will, your estate will be dealt with under the intestacy rules. Those rules are complicated and your assets might not end up with the people you wanted to leave them to.
People often assume that without a Will everything will pass to their spouse or civil partner, but this is not always the case, particularly if you have children.
With second marriages and blended families becoming increasingly common, it is particularly important to consider what impact the intestacy rules may have on any children from a previous marriage who could potentially lose out on their intended inheritance. The only way to ensure that this happens is by making a new Will.
An exception to the general rule that getting married revokes a Will
An exception to the automatic revocation principle is when a Will is made in contemplation of marriage to a specific person where your intention is for the Will to remain in force once that marriage has taken place.
In these circumstances the Will remains valid after the marriage. However the rules are highly technical and specialist legal advice should always be sought.
How we can help
If you are about to get married or have recently got married without making a new Will then give us a call. We can take stock of your assets and assess how you can best provide for the important people in your life.
Telephone 0808 139 1606 or alternatively email us at [email protected]