WILL you be my Valentine? P.S. it’s not just your Facebook status you need to update
14 February 2017 by Andrea Godfrey
On 14th February Facebook status’s all over the world will be changed to updates such as “He asked me to marry him!!!” or “He forgot again – it’s over!” But it’s not just your Facebook status you need to be thinking about updating.
A change in a relationship means you need to seriously consider updating your Will because it can have drastic legal consequences if you do not.
If you have a Will and then you subsequently marry or enter a Civil partnership, your old Will is automatically revoked. This means you will probably be deemed to have died without a Will and your estate will be dealt with under the rules of intestacy. Everyone automatically assumes that when one spouse dies the other inherits everything – “so I don’t need to make a Will”. This is not always the case and it could end in dramatic measures in that you may have to sell your house to pay other beneficiaries who are entitled under the rules of intestacy.
A Will can remain valid after a marriage if it states in the Will that is made in contemplation of marriage to a specific person.
Another common scenario is when married couples or civil partners separate but decide not to divorce (because of the cost or they still get on) and then later meet someone else. They then decide to simply live with their new partner – in some cases for many years. The Will you made when you were married/in a civil partnership will still stand regardless of your new relationship. This in fact happened in a court case in February 2016. Norman had separated from his wife and had been in a relationship with Joy for over 18 years. However, he did not divorce or update his will to reflect his new relationship. Because of this, all his estate, including his share of the house he owned with Joy, went to his estranged wife. A claim can sometimes be made by the new partner for “reasonable financial provision” but this is costly and very emotional.
Contrary to popular belief, getting divorced does not cancel your Will. Any gift to your former spouse takes effect as if they had died on the date of your Decree Absolute. But this means the gift falls back into your estate and if everything was left to them then again you are considered to have died intestate. Also, if they were your appointed executor it would potentially leave the will without executors. The result is extra complications which could be very costly following death.
Happy Valentines everyone – but please remember when you update your Facebook status on the 14th February – remember your Will as well!
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