Don’t go breaking my heart… or my Will

We’ve all heard the jokes that post lockdown and the coronavirus phase the rate of pregnancies and divorces are going to rise and although this is a bit tongue in cheek it’s also true that the pressure of households together 24/7 in these very unusual circumstances can put a strain on families.

I thought, therefore, that was a good opportunity for me to highlight the effect that divorce will have on your Will. The most key thing to note is that as well as marriage invalidating a Will, divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership also has an effect on your Will.

As the Society of Will Writers notes: ‘Section 18A of the Wills Act 1837 as amended by the Law Reform (Succession) Act 1995 s3(1) provides that where a person makes a Will and subsequently divorces, has their marriage annulled or dissolves their civil partnership then their former spouse or civil partner is deemed for the purpose of the testator’s Will to have died on the date that the marriage or civil partnership ended (the date on which the decree absolute or decree of dissolution was issued)’.

That means in reality that if your Will names a former spouse or civil partner as an executor in your Will then they will be unable to take up this position; if they had been awarded any gifts in the Will these would go to the substitute recipients. In the event that there were no other beneficiaries named in the Will (bar the former spouse or civil partner) then the estate would be subject to the laws of intestacy which we’ve talk about in a former blog which you can read HERE (LINK TO: http://alhlegal-willwriters.co.uk/why-a-will-easing-the-way-for-your-loved-ones-after-youve-gone/)

To be really clear, this law is only brought into effect is on the day that the decree absolute or decree of dissolution is issued (your divorce/dissolution of civil partnership is finalised). Before that point and whether you are going through divorce proceedings or have been separated for a long period of time then your Will is still valid.  So many people make a “holding” Will during their divorce proceedings to ensure that their spouse or civil partner would not inherit.

Just something to think about and to be aware of. Rather like with marriage you can make a Will in contemplation of divorce or dissolution but that’s not common practice as you can imagine.

If you wish to discuss your estate planning or any changes to your Will please contact me on the details below.