When you separate from your partner, changing your will sooner rather than later might not be high on your list of priorities. Ann Farnill, Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate at Tallents Solicitors explains why you should change your Will.
Why should I change my will when I separate or divorce?
Separation is a highly-charged and emotional time for everyone involved. Depending on your circumstances and key priorities, making changes to your will might seem like the last thing on your mind. But none of us knows what the future holds, so it makes sense to protect the ones you love and want to care for with an up to date Will.
If you own property and have children, then it’s absolutely vital that you make changing your will a priority if you separate or divorce from your spouse/partner, otherwise on your death, your ex-spouse/partner could receive everything you owned under your old will.
Or worse, without at will at all, your estate will be distributed by the government according to the Rules of Intestacy.
What do I need to think about when changing my will?
You will need to look at everything you own, i.e. your assets and decide how you want those distributed following the separation or divorce. At this difficult time, it may feel as if you have nothing of value to leave anyone at all, but you may wish to leave specific heirlooms to named people, so you should state these wishes clearly in your will.
Who inherits what after a separation?
Separating from your spouse or partner does not mean that they automatically lose their legal right to a share of your estate. That will depends on the terms agreed for the separation agreement or divorce. Existing wills are only revoked following a marriage or remarriage.
If you have children under the age of 18, then you can ensure they will inherit your assets, although you should make sure any bequeathed money or property is held in a trust until they reach a specified age.
What else should you think about when changing a will?
Other points to consider when writing or changing your will are the arrangements for your funeral. Without a Will, your ex-spouse/partner will have the right to decide how and where funeral proceedings will take place and they do not have to take the wishes of other family members into consideration.
You should also consider who will be the executor of your Will, as this would usually have been your spouse.
If you’re going through a separation or divorce, then our legal experts are here to help you make the right decisions for your loved ones. We offer appointments at our Newark, Southwell and Mansfield offices, so please call us to arrange a convenient time to change your Will.