Is your will still valid? 

black and silver fountain pen
Whether you’re planning a proposal or already engaged, read on to find out more about how marriage can affect existing wills and what options are available to unmarried couples. 

Marriage is a legally-binding agreement that ties two people and their assets together. This means that once you’re married, everything from bank accounts and savings to property and inheritance now belong to both individuals.  

If you own or will inherit large assets, then it’s important to understand that your spouse will also have a legal claim. It’s also essential that you’re aware of any debts, as once married, creditors will be able to claim against any joint assets. In these instances, prenuptial agreements can help protect your assets from debt or divorce. 

Effects of marriage on pre-existing wills 

Because marriage joins your assets, this legally-binding contract overrides pre-existing Wills. This means that if you pass away without making a new one, you will die intestate and your estate will be distributed according to a strict order outlined by the laws of intestacy. This also applies to anyone looking to remarry following a divorce.  

Your spouse may only  inherit part of your estate and, close friends, carers and step-children will now be excluded, as well as any children from a previous relationship. In order to avoid accidentally disinheriting any of your loved ones, you’ll want to create a new Will once married.  

Wills “in contemplation of marriage” 

You can create a Will “in contemplation of marriage”. In this case, the Will must clearly state the name of the person you intend to marry, making it a great option for engaged couples looking to plan their future. 

Divorce and Wills 

While marriage is a life-long commitment, couples might find they need to go their separate ways. If you make a Will after marriage and then get divorced later down the road, the will remains valid. However, anything that involves the name of your ex-spouse will be treated as though they passed away on the date your marriage was dissolved.  

Creating Wills for unmarried couples 

If you have lived together for more than two years and your partner passes away, you will automatically have rights to the property but not to any other financial assets or belongings. If no Will is in place, then these other assets will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, which excludes unmarried partners. In this case, writing a Will can help protect your partner and ensure they get looked after financially. 

Professional help 

Whether you’re engaged or recently married, our team can help you understand the impact marriage has on your assets and make sure your Will is valid. Get in touch and let’s make plans to protect your estate and loved ones, so you can start your new lives together full of confidence for the future.  

Sophie Price, Director at Fodens Solicitors 

For more information, contact Sophie and the Fodens team on 01952 726111 or email hello@fodens.co.uk 

 

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