If you have already made the difficult decision to end your relationship, it is likely that you would not want your former partner to benefit from your personal estate.
Many people think of updating their Will as a final step after their divorce or separation is finalised; but waiting can leave your intended beneficiaries vulnerable.
What happens to my estate if I do not update my Will before my divorce is finalised?
If you have a Will naming your spouse as a beneficiary, it will remain valid until your divorce is finalised with a Decree Absolute. This may only take a few months, but it can also take years. Should anything happen to you in the interim, your estate will be administered according to your Will.
It is common for spouses to be an executor as well as the main beneficiary of each other’s Wills. If you do not want them to be in charge of your estate should anything happen to you, you should update your Will as soon as possible.
Does my divorce or dissolution invalidate my existing Will?
No, it does not. If you do not update your Will after your relationship has legally ended, any gifts to your ex-spouse will fail, but there may be other unwanted consequences. The assets in your Will originally intended to pass to your ex-spouse may be governed by intestacy rules, which could conflict with how you would have wished them to be distributed.
If your ex-spouse was the named executor of your estate, this may mean that you are left without an executor and left to the law to decide who will be responsible for your assets.
What happens if I do not have a Will?
In UK, if you do not have a Will your spouse or civil partner is one of your (or possibly your sole) legal heirs and would remain so until your relationship has legally ended. Even if you have separated with a court order, they will remain an heir until your relationship has legally ended
What does this mean for my Beneficiaries?
In all these situations, your ex-partner could benefit from your estate and it would fall to your intended beneficiaries to challenge this at a time when they should be allowed to grieve.
We would therefore strongly recommend that you review your Will as soon as it is clear your relationship is ending. You can update it as often as you want or need to reflect your wishes.
For an initial discussion about your situation, please call 020 7993 2936.