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Why you need to make a new Will if you’re getting married

So you're getting married? Congratulations! But did you know that this happy event automatically cancels out any previous Will you made, leaving you in a potentially vulnerable position?

In effect, until you make a new Will, you don't have a valid Will, which means that if you die, the laws of intestacy decide how your estate is divided and not according to the wishes expressed in your pre-marriage Will.

This may not be what you want, especially if you have children.

The only exception is if the Will written before your marriage contains a specific and correctly written clause saying it is made in contemplation of marriage which means it won't be invalidated by the wedding.

What do the current laws of intestacy mean?

Dying without a valid Will in place, because you didn't make a new one after getting married for instance, means you are 'dying intestate'. So, if your estate is worth less than £250,000 then your spouse of civil partner will automatically inherit everything.

If your estate is worth more than £250,000 then your spouse will inherit everything if you leave no children or grandchildren.
If your estate is worth more than £250,000 and you leave children (irrespective of whether they are from your current marriage) then your spouse will automatically inherit:

  • Your personal effects (which now means all tangible movable property except for money, securities for money, property used mainly for business purposes, or property held solely as an investment);
  • The first £250,000;
  • Half of the balance of the remaining estate outright. The children will share the other half of the balance equally. If any of the children die before your spouse, then their share would be divided equally between their children (if there are any).

Peace of mind

A correctly drawn Will is an inexpensive way of avoiding difficulties in the future for your relatives and friends in the event of your death. It puts you in control of the final destination of your estate. Importantly it avoids costly litigation and relationships being torn apart.

For help and advice about making or revising your Will, please contact Wards Solicitors' Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity team.

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