There are a number of life events that merit reconsideration of what you chose to put in your will earlier. Here’s a run-down of some of the most common ones, and their impact (if relevant) on your will.
Changing your will because of marriage
Marriage revokes a will, so if you marry after having prepared a will, then unless that will was made in contemplation of that marriage, it will be invalid.
If you marry, then, by law, your spouse or civil partner should be provided for on your death, as it’s considered reasonable that the financial provision you make for them during your lifetime is continued, on a reasonable basis, following your death.
The fact of the marriage will invalidate/supersede any earlier will that you made. So, if you do not want your new spouse or partner to benefit from all the rights that the law accords to spouses and partners (these are significant), your will needs to be updated so that your wishes are very clear and they are legally enforceable.
There are many ways in which you can provide for your spouse or partner, and the use of trusts may be beneficial to provide your spouse or partner with a right to live in a property for their lifetime, whilst ring-fencing those assets ultimately for your children.
This would fall within what’s considered reasonable provision; it is not necessary to leave assets outright to a spouse or partner to ensure that reasonable financial provision is made for them.
Changing your will because of divorce
Divorce does not revoke a will. Your will continues to be valid following a divorce, but any gifts contained in your will to your former spouse or civil partner would be treated as if your spouse or partner has predeceased you.
It's important to note that unless a court consent order is agreed and signed, your divorce may not preclude your former spouse or civil partner from making a claim against your estate for financial provision.
Also, if your divorce provides for financial maintenance/provision to be made to your former spouse of civil partner, then they may be entitled to claim for this to continue following your death.
Changing your will because of the birth of a child/adoption of a child
Unless you write them into your will, children won’t automatically be included. So, when you have a child, and any subsequent children, you’ll need to ensure that:
your will is drafted to refer to all children, or
you may need to update your will, both in respect of any personal items that you might wish to leave to them, but also in case you want them to benefit from any residual value in the estate that is left over once all your designated personal item and monetary gifts have been distributed
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