Divorce is an extremely stressful thing to go through, especially when wills are brought into the equation
Nobody likes dwelling on morbid subjects like death but putting the time and resources aside to create a will is a good way to save you and your loved ones potential difficulties down the line.
However, even the best prepared among us can be caught unawares. Life is full of twists and turns. Circumstances often change and, as such, the terms laid out in your will when first drafted may no longer reflect your best interests 10 years down the line. One of the most common examples of this comes when a couple get divorced.
Divorce can alter the instructions left within your will. While the will does remain valid following your divorce, your ex-spouse will no longer be able to benefit from it unless expressly stated otherwise by you.
So what does this mean for your assets?
Who will inherit?
Many people name their spouse as either a beneficiary, trustee or executor of their will. However, if the marriage ends, the terms of your will automatically change. Anything left to your ex-spouse in your will is dealt with as though they passed away on the day your marriage ended. As such, whatever they were set to inherit would be passed to the next beneficiary who is entitled to it.
If your spouse was set to inherit everything in your will, your estate will be dealt with as though you died intestate – i.e., passing away without a valid will in place. This means the law decides who inherits what from you under the rules of intestacy.
Who will act as executor?
If you named your ex-spouse as an executor in your will, but also named other executors, they will still be able to act. If you only named your ex-spouse as executor, then an alternative will be appointed by the court. In most cases, this is a family member or friend.
Separation and remarriage
Unlike divorce, separation does not alter the terms of your will as you and your ex-spouse are still legally married. This means your ex-spouse will be entitled to inherit from you exactly as is set out in your will.
If you do not want your spouse to benefit, but are not legally divorced, you’ll need to write a new will.
In the event that you remarry, your existing will is revoked altogether unless you expressly state otherwise. You’ll need to create a new will that better reflects your current wishes and circumstances. If you fail to create a new will after remarrying, your estate will be treated as though you had died intestate.
What can be done to avoid disagreement?
In order to avoid confusion and conflict down the line, steps must be taken now to ensure that your will is iron-clad and crystal clear, especially if you are in the process of separating, divorcing or remarrying.
With help on your side, you can create an agreement that covers all eventualities. Head of Wills, Probate and Trusts at Winn Solicitors, Rebecca Harbron Gray, explains the importance of effective will writing, saying:
“Many people avoid writing a will and making plans for death for many years because they think it is a morbid or depressing process. But the truth is often that, once complete, people get a sense of comfort and relief from knowing that they have done all they can to protect and care for their nearest and dearest.
“At Winn Solicitors our team has decades of experience in this specialist field of law and we know how to make it simple and stress-free – no matter how complex your estate or family situation.”
Winn Solicitors house a dedicated team of legal specialists ready to help you settle your affairs with ease.
If you’re looking for expert solicitors for wills, get in touch with Winn Solicitors today.