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Both marriage and divorce can have a dramatic effect on your Will. It is therefore vitally important that you make a Will or review your existing Will when contemplating either of these life changing events.

A surprisingly little known fact is that marriage will normally automatically revoke your Will even if this is not your intention. The simple way to overcome this is to make a Will ‘in expectation of’ your up and coming marriage and state what the position will be if the marriage fails to take place before you die. If you have married since writing your Will and your Will has not been made ‘in expectation of marriage’ then it is likely that your Will has been revoked.

On divorce, your Will does remain valid, however it takes effect as if your former spouse has died before you. Again, this can be overcome by specifically stating your intention regarding your ‘soon to be ex’ in your Will.

It is also worth noting that your former spouse or civil partner can still make a claim against your estate unless you have a specific order from the court dismissing all such future claims. The best way to bring your affairs up to date is to take specialist advice as soon as your wishes change. This may be when you decide that your marriage has irretrievable broken down.

If you want to change your Will after your divorce it is better to make a new Will than to make a codicil. This is because a codicil usually republishes the Will and it is easy to overlook the consequences of this. For example, if you make a Will appointing your spouse and your brother as your executors, then you divorce and die, only the appointment of your brother as executor takes effect.

However, if you make a codicil after your divorce and do not say anything about the executors, strictly speaking the codicil republishes the Will and reinstates the appointment of your former spouse. Clearly, this could cause unnecessary complications on your death. If you have any questions or are concerned that your Will no longer reflects your wishes or is no longer valid contact Louise Miller on 0191 2127753.

Louise is a solicitor at Mincoffs who specialises in the preparation of Wills and will be pleased to offer guidance and update you Will where necessary.

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