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The position in law in England & Wales is that if your marriage is ended by a court order, the Will already in existence is not automatically void or invalid.
The stress and upheaval caused by divorce is very significant. There are many issues to consider, including how inheritance and wills may be affected.
A number of key questions regarding inheritance and wills arise during a divorce:
- Has either party to the marriage made a Will?
- Is it important that I make a Will after divorce?
- Who will inherit our respective estates after a divorce?
- What about our pensions?
- What effect will divorce have on our inheritance tax position?
- What if there is property abroad?
- What is the effect on any trust that may be in existence at the time of our divorce?
The position in law in England & Wales is that if your marriage is ended by a court order (be that for divorce or annulment) the Will in existence is not automatically void or invalid. It will take effect on decree absolute as though your spouse had died on that day. This would normally mean that any gift or property, which was left in your Will to your spouse, would revert on divorce into your residual estate and not pass on to your spouse.
If you made mirror wills leaving everything to each other then the effect is that you are both treated as though you were intestate (that is, as though you had not made a will) at the time of your death.
This can have several unfortunate consequences relating to tax implications, your desire to keep assets within your family and experiencing a loss of control over how your estate is disposed of following your death, as this would follow rules set down by law as opposed to in accordance with your specific wishes.
In addition, if you had appointed your spouse as a trustee or executor this provision would fail after divorce and this may not be what you want to happen.
At Specters, we will explain the rules relating to inheritance after divorce and advise you on making a will to protect your interests and the interests of your relatives in accordance with your wishes.
We will arrange for you to see one of the specialist Wills and Probate lawyers before your decree absolute to advise you on this aspect of your divorce.
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