The Myths About Divorce and Your Will
Mar 06, 2018
There are a lot of myths out there about what would happen if you made a Will when you were married and then separated or divorced. So let's clear this up so we all know where we stand. If you are married and make a Will leaving everything to your spouse, then obviously when you die, they inherit what you have left them. If you are separated but not divorced, and have not changed your Will to exclude them, then again, if you die, they will inherit what you left them as you are still married. Now, here's the tricky bit. What if you made a Will leaving everything to your spouse, then got divorced, but neither of you re-married. What do you think would happen if you died without changing your Will? Would you think that because you are now divorced, they would not inherit anything from you? You would think that would be the case. Unfortunately it isn't. The current Law of Intestacy states that even if you are divorced, for the purposes of Intestacy your legal ties are not severed. This is because marriage is a legal status, divorce is not. For example, if you have made a Will leaving your estate to your spouse, you then become separated and finally divorced, your ex spouse is still legally entitled to inherit your estate. This is unless you have deliberately excluded them from your new Will, or if you have re-married or if they have since re-married. This situation is regardless of whether you are now living with a new partner or if they are. Imagine how your new partner would feel if they knew you had intended them to inherit but had not changed your will to exclude a previous spouse. They would not inherit anything. The legal ties are only severed by the new contract of marriage, this means that unless either of you have remarried the old Will still stands. This is why we always advise people to review their will upon the breakdown of a relationship, especially a marriage, so that they can carefully consider the implications of leaving things as they are or, as in many cases, re-write their will to reflect their new circumstances. That said, you can still leave your ex-spouse something if you wish to do so, but perhaps not your entire estate.