What will happen to my existing will once I'm married?
Congratulations! You are now happily married to the love of your life. But have you thought about your will?
26 June 2015
Getting married means that any will written before you took your vows and signed the register is now invalid. If you do not have a new will drawn up then your estate would be dealt with under the rules of intestacy. This means that, depending on the size of your estate, your new spouse will receive up to £250,000 with the rest being split between any children you have and a trust for your spouse.
If you do not have any children then your spouse would receive up to £450,000 and your siblings would get the rest.
The only exception to this is if you wrote your will “in contemplation of marriage” and it contains explicit instructions that you intend the will to remain valid after the marriage.
Now it may not seem like a big deal, after all your spouse is getting part of your estate no matter what, but what if you had laid out specific bequests in your will? If you don’t update it then these do not have to be honoured. A will is more than just distributing financial assets, it is about acknowledging those that matter to you, distributing your special possessions, and formally documenting your final wishes. If your previous will appointed guardians to look after your children this appointment would also be invalid.
You cannot update or alter your will by simply writing on it yourself. Any alterations will be assumed as having been made after the will was executed and therefore would not be valid. You can make a legal change to your will, called a codicil, but there are special rules about them so you must seek legal advice on how to get this done.
Alternatively you can write a whole new will to cover your new circumstances. Again this is best done with a solicitor so you can make sure your wishes are detailed clearly and without any vagaries or contradictions.
All information was correct at the time of publication.