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Divorced, Separated and Married - impact on wills and probate

1. Make a new will when you get married as your old one is revoked!

Effect of marriage on a will

Generally speaking, if you marry or form a civil partnership your will is revoked completely! This means that if you die without making a new will, you could die intestate!

2. Make a new will when you separate or when divorcing if you do not yet have decree absolute! 

Effect of divorce and separation on a will

If a testator divorces (on a decree absolute) or ends a civil partnership (on a final dissolution order), his will takes effect as if his former spouse or civil partner had died before him, unless he expresses a contrary intention in the will

However if a couple have formally separated or they only have decree nisi then they are treated as still married as far as their will is concerned and so gifts to such spouses and their appointment as executors remain.

3. The Intestacy rules do not allow a former spouse or a couple that is legally separated to benefit

Effect of divorce and separation on an intestacy

Where a marriage or civil partnership is dissolved by a legally recognised decree or there is a continuing judicial separation, the surviving spouse or civil partner of an individual who has died has no right to benefit under the intestacy.

4. What does this mean for probate

When checking the validity of a will or the distribution under an intestacy a Solicitor needs to check the impact of these rules to verify who can legally benefit from the estate.

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