How does a divorce or marriage affect Wills?
Differently, is the answer.
Divorce does NOT revoke a Will nor make it invalid, but what it does do is treat any named spouse as having predeceased. So, for example, if they have been named as an executor, then it is as if they had already died (even if they are still alive), so cannot act. Likewise, if they are named as a beneficiary then the law treats them as if they are no longer alive, so their inheritance would either pass to their children or as per whatever the Will says.
Marriage is completely different though. Section 18 of the Wills Act 1837 states, “…a will shall be revoked by the testator’s marriage.” Many times I see clients who say to me, “I do have a Will. I did it before I got married.” What that means is, actually, they don’t have a Will at all, because it was automatically revoked upon their marriage.
The caveat is, however, this. “Where it appears from a will that at the time it was made the testator was expecting to be married to a particular person and that he intended that the will should not be revoked by the marriage, the will shall not be revoked by his marriage to that person.” So, in other words, wording can be put in place to say that the Will is not to be revoked, when the marriage takes place.
However, this clause must be in ‘expectation’ of a marriage; and in expectation of marriage to a named person. Of course, when we talk about marriage, civil partnerships are treated exactly the same as marriage, in law.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, divorce is a big, key motivator to get a Will drawn up or amended; marriage, less so.
At Prior Knowledge we advise clients in these scenarios all the time. We always offer a free initial consultation, day time or evening, almost always in the comfort of their own homes.