What is the effect of marriage on a Will?

Despite the large numbers of marriages and civil partnerships that take place in England and Wales every year, there is often confusion about what happens to a Will that was effected before any union is legally constituted.

What happens to your Will when you marry?

It is important to realise that a Will put in place before any marriage is immediately revoked once that marriage takes place. In the event that another Will is not executed before you pass away, your estate will therefore devolve according to the Rules of Intestacy – View Here. This means that, based on the size of your financial estate, your spouse will obtain the first £270,000.00 and one half of the remainder of the estate, with the other half being divided between your children. If you do not have children, your spouse (or remoter family members) will receive 100% of your estate.

This may not be consistent with your ultimate wishes and the chance of a Court claim being undertaken by potentially disgruntled family members, involving lengthy and costly legal proceedings, is likely to be increased as a result. Matters may become even more complicated if there are children from previous relationships to be considered or if your spouse remarries following your passing. It is therefore essential that you seek advice and put in place a new Will as soon as possible following any marriage/civil partnership.

Wills made ‘in anticipation of marriage’

Nevertheless, it is possible for a Will to be prepared ‘in anticipation of marriage’, i.e. before a marriage or a civil partnership takes place. This entails including a clause within your Will confirming that the document shall not be revoked if your proposed marriage takes place. Furthermore, it is important that the document is drafted in the knowledge that your marriage to your partner is occurring within a reasonable period following the execution of your Will and that this subsequent event shall not invalidate it. Again, you should seek specialist advice if it is your intention for a Will to be prepared on this basis, before your proposed marriage/civil partnership.

Bereavement is a stressful and upsetting time for the family of deceased persons. It is therefore sensible for all concerned that a Will is made or amended as soon as you marry or, alternatively, made in anticipation of marriage to ensure the minimum amount of upset following your passing.

The preparation and execution process of a Will can be complicated and requires expert advice and assistance.  For more information concerning this, please contact our Wills and Estates team via email WillsandEstatesNewEnquiries@Thursfields.co.uk or by telephone on 0121 820 9575.

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