If you’re getting divorced, your will is likely to be the last thing you want to think about. But this new change in your life will have a drastic impact on your will, transforming what would happen to your life’s savings if you died. So, what is the effect of divorce on a will, exactly? Here’s our guide.

 

Key facts about divorce and wills:

  • Until your divorce is final, your previous will is still valid
  • This means your spouse can still inherit your estate if you’re just separated
  • After the divorce is finalised, your will is still valid, but your ex-spouse can’t benefit from it
  • This means your estate could end up being settled by the laws of intestacy, not according to your wishes
  • If you remarry, your will won’t be valid anymore – you’ll have to make a new one

You can make a new will online at Beyond for just £90. It takes just 15 minutes, and with our optional subscription, you’ll be able to update it whenever you like. You can find out more here.

For all the essential details of what happens to a will after a divorce, take a look at the guide below. You can also skip ahead using the links here:

DivorcedSeparatedRemarried

 

How does divorce affect your will?

The interesting thing about divorce and wills is that unlike marriage, a divorce doesn’t invalidate your pre-existing will. Instead, your will remains as it is – but it’ll be settled as if your ex-husband or ex-wife had died before you.

This can have sweeping consequences, as your ex-spouse can no longer be a beneficiary, executor or a trustee. That might sound fine – but the result might be something you’d never have chosen for your family.

 

So, who does inherit through your will after the divorce?

After your divorce is final, your ex-spouse will be blocked from benefiting from your will.

This means that anything you left to your ex-husband or wife in your previous will won’t go to them. Instead, the gift will go to whoever you said should get their share if they died before you – if you made that provision in your will. If you didn’t, the gift will be treated as if you died without a will at all.

 

What if you or your spouse dies after the divorce and there isn’t a will?

If you die without a will after the divorce is final, the good(?) news is that your ex-spouse won’t inherit your estate. The bad news is that you won’t have a say in who does: it’ll be decided by the laws of intestacy.

These laws can cause real issues. For one, any new partner you have won’t get anything, unless you remarry – nor will any step-children. If you have kids, the estate will need to be divided between them, which can force the sale of the family home. And on top of this, the inheritance tax bill might be higher than you’d otherwise pay.

Even a really basic will can prevent these issues, so it’s well worth investing.

 

What is the effect of divorce on the will’s executors?

The executor of your will is the person you trust to settle your legal and financial affairs. They’ll be in change of making sure that all of your money and assets go to the right people. If the will you made before your divorce named your ex-spouse as executor, you might have to find a new one.

If you named more than one executor, the effect of divorce on the will might be minimal. The executor(s) you have left will take care of things. But if your ex-partner was your only executor, you’ll need to make a new will to replace them.

 

What happens to your will when you’re separated?

Nothing. Even if you’ve moved out, you’re still legally married until the divorce is finalised. Your will isn’t affected by your separation at all.

This means that anything you’ve left your spouse in your will would still go to them if you died now. They can also still be your executor, a guardian or a trustee. So, it’s a good idea to make a new will when you separate – especially if you think it’ll be a while before your divorce is finalised.

 

What if there’s no will and a spouse dies during divorce proceedings?

If you die without a will now, before you’re properly divorced, your spouse will get all or most of your estate!

This is still true if you’re separated or if there’s a death during divorce proceedings. Until you have the final papers (decree absolute) in hand, your ex-partner is still legally your husband or wife. As such, they’re entitled to the first £250,000 of your estate, all your belongings, and half of whatever’s left over if you die. They’ll also get the other half if you don’t have kids.

 

What happens to a will after a divorce and a new marriage?

Marriage makes all previous wills invalid. Unless you make a new will, your estate will once again be handled according to the laws of intestacy. That means that if you die your new husband or wife will get most of your estate, or most of it, depending on whether or not you have kids.

This can lead to nasty battles between your children from your previous marriage and your new partner. To keep the peace and protect your kids’ inheritance, it’s usually best to create a new will and make your wishes clear.

 

Ready to make a will?

If you’re worried about the effect of divorce on a will, you can make a new one online with Beyond in just 15 minutes. All you have to do is answer simple questions about your wishes, and we’ll transform your answers into a detailed, legally-binding will with all the right language and clauses.

Our service includes:

  • A legally-binding will
  • Live support all the way
  • Checked by experts
  • Will registration worth £30
  • Just £90

And for an optional £10 a year, you can get:

  • A new will whenever you want
  • Secure storage in our vault
  • Updates whenever the law changes

It’s free to try – you’ll only pay once you’re ready to download your will. Give it a go here.

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