Marriage, Separation, Divorce and Wills:
The Impact of Major Relationship Events on Your Will

You have taken the step to draft a Will and ensure that your estate is organised. However, failing to update your Will after major relationship events may cause in unintended results when you die.

What Happens to A Will After Marriage

Separation and Wills

When a person marries, the law automatically revokes the Will. Failing to update your Will results in your spouse taking your estate absolutely. This becomes an issue if you wish to leave assets to relatives, friends of children from former relationships. Updating your Will after marriage is crucial to ensure that your intentions are fulfilled.

However, there are two exceptions to this rule. First, if you were contemplating a particular marriage at the time of drafting the Will. For example, having a fiancé or discussing marriage plans with your partner. Merely knowing that there is a possibility of marriage in the future is not sufficient. Second, expressly stating that the Will was made ‘in contemplation of marriage’ will maintain the validity of your Will. It is important to discuss your intentions with a lawyer when drafting your Will.

What Happens to Your Will after you Divorce?

Unless expressly stated in the Will, the Will takes effect as if your former spouse died before you after divorce or marriage annulment. Sections that allocate your former spouse as a beneficiary, executor, trustee, advisory trustee, guardian, or any grant of power exercised by or in their favour are revoked.

However, a divorce or annulment will not revoke clauses that appoint your former spouse as trustee of property on trust for beneficiaries that include the former spouses children or the grant of a power of appointment exercisable by the testator’s former spouse only in favour of children shared by the former spouse and testator.

Does Marriage Separation Impact Your Will?

Inflammatory content can be posted in the heat of moment while you are in a high emotional state. However, you should not attempt to delete online material. It is easy for the other party to screenshot social media content for evidence at any time. Deleting material may be considered tampering with evidence and further hinder your case.

Unlike divorce, marriage separation does not effect a testator’s Will. This means that it is vital to update your Will immediately following separation to ensure that your intentions are fulfilled.

As highlighted, major relationship events impact the operation of your Will. This may result in your assets being allocated contrary to your intention. We advise to update (or at least review) your Will after each major life event. Please contact us to discuss your needs or to begin drafting a Will.

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