Wills and Divorce - A Quick Guide on How Splitting Up Affects Your Will
If you’re mid-divorce, or post-divorce, you may well feel like you’d rather not see another legal document right now.
But when it comes to your last will and testament, there’s no better time to get things sorted. It’s not even that expensive, or difficult. Here’s why.
What does separation mean for your will?
Not a thing. That’s actually the problem. If you die before your divorce is finalised, everything will be treated the same as if you and your spouse were still together.
- If you have a will, the will is still valid.
If you left everything to your spouse, they will still get that money (and property, and belongings). Even if you’re no longer living together.
- If you don’t have a will, intestacy law applies.
No kids? Your spouse will get everything. If you do have kids, your spouse will get everything up to £250,000, half of anything over that amount, and all your possessions.
So, dying before your divorce is done may well mean that your money, property, belongings and assets will all go to your ex. Even in amicable splits, that’s not exactly ideal - especially if you have children or a new partner to support.
What does divorce mean for your will?
Once your divorce is all settled, things are different.
With a will
If you have a will, the will is still valid. BUT your ex can’t inherit anything from it. Anything you said you would leave to them will be treated instead as though they died before you.
Often, this means everything will go to the beneficiary/ies next in line in your will. But if you left everything to your partner, with no back-ups, your estate will be dealt the same as if you had no will at all.
Without a will
Without a will in place, intestacy law kicks in. This is a set of rules that decides which of your relatives should inherit. You’ll have absolutely no say in who will inherit your money, property and assets.
Both these options come with a lot of unintended consequences. So, it’s essential to make a fresh will once your divorce is finalised.
Of course, a will is worthwhile anyway…
Most people plan on making a will at some point. If you’re recently divorced, or just separated, now is a really good time to get sorted. After all, your priorities will have changed quite a bit.
But there are other reasons to do it:
- Leave your money, assets and belongings to the people you choose
- Protect your loved ones (parents, children, new partner) after you’re gone
- Give gifts to friends who have supported you
- Avoid a hefty inheritance tax bill
- Prevent fights between family members
- Make a difference with a charitable gift