Married Couples

Legal martial status has an important impact on Wills and legacies.

If you are:-

  • Single, even if you live with a ‘partner’ as ‘common-law’ husband and wife, the only people to inherit from you (unless you say differently in a Will) will be your blood relatives.
  • Getting married, then the act of marriage automatically revokes all existing Wills (unless the Will has very specific instructions to the contrary)
  • Married, then your spouse would receive much of your estate even without a Will – but NOT all of it (see Intestacy)
  • Separated or in the process of getting divorced, then there is no change to inheritance – you spouse will still receive exactly the same as when you were living together, unless you update your Will
  • Divorced (that is right through to granting of Decree Absolute, not just a Decree Nisi), then your existing Will remains totally valid but your ex-spouse is treated as if they died on the day of the divorce (so if named as Executor they could not act in the role and any gifts to them in the Will would fail)

Changing your marital status is a significant life event – you should update your Will at that time to match your changed circumstances.

All the same considerations apply to Civil Partnerships.