Although your Will is still valid after your divorce, it may no longer reflect your wishes.
In England and Wales, divorce does not invalidate your Will, but it does change it. Your ex-spouse will not benefit from your Will unless expressly stated.
What changes on your Will after divorce
Usually, when you are married, your spouse benefits from your Will and is often the person you have appointed as your executor.
After you divorce, a Decree Absolute will be issued, which confirms the end of your marriage. When this is received, the terms of your Will automatically change. Anything you have bequeathed to your ex-spouse would be handled as if your ex-spouse had died on the day the marriage ended.
If you have other beneficiaries, your ex-spouses share would be passed along to them.
If you have no other beneficiaries, then your estate would be dealt with as per the rules of Intestacy. For more information regarding the rules of Intestacy see our blog: What is Intestacy – Who inherits if you die without a will?
There are two different scenarios in this case:
A divorcee with children: The estate will be passed to the children. If in the case the divorced person and their children die together, for example in a car accident, then the estate would go to the divorced person’s parents or, if they are not alive, brothers and sisters of the divorced person. This is unlikely to be what you would want, so updating your Will is important if this situation arises.
A divorcee without children: the estate would go to their parents or brothers or sisters. This may be what you wish, but if you have a new partner, and perhaps a new family, they may not be properly provided for. Updating or creating a new Will is the best way to ensure your estate provides for the people you wish.
What will happen if your ex-spouse is your executor
If you have multiple executors on your Will, the other executors can act and your ex-spouse will no longer have the right to execute your Will.
If your ex-spouse was the only named executor, then the court would appoint an executor for your estate.
What happens if I separate but do not divorce
A separation does not change your Will. Your estranged partner will still be entitled to whatever you have stated. Also if appointed as an executor they will still have this role. After you separate often your wishes change and you should update your Will to reflect this.
If you had no Will, your spouse would still inherit from you under the Intestacy Rules.
Whatever your circumstances, don’t let reviewing or creating a will slip down your priority list. For advice and support, you can contact the team at Sovereign Planning, and we will guide you every step of the way.