Marriage automatically revokes a will that has been made previously, leaving it invalid. This means that if you have a will written out and have since married or remarried, you will need to revisit this document to ensure that your estate will still be passed on as you wish.
The only way your will can remain valid after marriage is if it is written in anticipation of the marriage. This article will explain what happens if your will is not amended, and how you can ensure your will remains valid after marriage.
What happens to my estate if my will is invalid?
If not written in anticipation, your will is revoked once you have married. This means, as things stand, you do not have a valid will and so your estate will be dealt with under the rules of intestacy.
Depending on the size of your estate, your spouse will receive the first £250,000 and one half of the rest of the estate with the balance being split between your children. If you do not have children, your spouse will receive all your estate.
This may not be what you want for any number of reasons. It can also cause complications as it may mean that a valuable asset such as a property is jointly owned by your spouse and your children from a previous marriage.
Bereavement is already an upsetting and stressful time, it is wise to either make or amend a will as soon as you marry, or in anticipation of marriage, to avoid further distress in the future.
What should I do if I have married, or am planning on getting married?
If you have recently married or remarried, you should consider making and signing a new will. This is even more important if you have children from a previous marriage or relationship.
The only way a will written previously can remain valid after a marriage takes place is if it is made beforehand in anticipation of marriage. This means it is possible for partners to draft wills confirming it is made in anticipation of their upcoming marriage and that the will should not be invalidated when that marriage occurs.
If it is clear that you intend your new will to take effect after you have married, then it will be valid once you are. To make this clear, you will need to include the words ‘in anticipation of marriage to (name)’ or alternatively ‘in contemplation of marriage to (name)’.
Writing and reviewing your will
It is important that your will remains up-to-date as significant life changes may well have an effect on the contents of the document. On some occasions, you may wish to re-write your will entirely. You should seek help from a legal professional when drafting or reviewing your will.