35% of couples are predicted to get divorced in the future, and with over 100,000 divorces every year then there are many couples and families who need reliable and trusted financial advice and support at a difficult time.
Preparing to get married is an exciting time that involves lots of planning, but many couples often overlook their Wills. Many people are not aware that when you get married, or remarried then any existing Will is revoked. So planning for the future and family is essential.
For most people, when going through a recent break-up, making a Will is the last thing on their mind, but if there is already a Will in place then this is unlikely to be appropriate for the new circumstances and it is advisable to update sooner rather than later, particularly with family involved.
If a client is separated
Separation can occur for many reasons and can create a huge change in a person’s life. If there is a Will then it’s important to remember that though separated, from a legal perspective the couple are still married and so nothing has changed where the will (and wishes depicted) is concerned.
Therefore the spouse can still inherit, regardless of how long the separation has occurred for.
If there is no will in place, then intestacy laws still apply and the spouse can still inherit. If you have children then it is feasible for both your spouse and children to inherit in equal shares. Any new partner will not necessarily be provided for unless they go to court, or unless a new will has been created.
If a client divorces
Once divorced then certain financial matters may well have been looked after, but matters regarding the estate could still be complicated and cause issues. Any Will that was created during the marriage can still be valid, and any new partner may not be accounted for.
As a married couple it is common to appoint a partner as the executor of a Will, after a divorce the Will is still valid but the ex-spouse’s role as executor of the Will is automatically cancelled. In addition, the Will would be read as if the former spouse had died on the date the decree became absolute, and therefore the rules of intestacy will apply to the share they would have received.
But there are a few considerations:
- Beneficiaries: If the ex-partner was entitled to the majority of the estate in a Will then it is recommended that a new beneficiary is appointed. It’s also important to consider that a client’s own children can always inherit, whereas step-children or a partner’s children can only inherit if it is part of a Will.
- Executors: The best action to take is to appoint more than one executor. An executor must be over 18 years of age and can be the beneficiary if you prefer.
- The ex-spouse: A client can still leave assets to their ex-spouse. If there is a financial obligation to them then this should be taken into account when a new will is written.
- Inheritance Tax: During a marriage, a partner would have been exempt from Inheritance Tax (IHT). However, any estate will now only have a tax-free limit of £325,000 unless the beneficiary is a new spouse.
- Guardianship: it may also be particularly important for to appoint a guardian in the event of the clients’ death. Both parents should ensure that there is someone to take care of their children in their place. Usually, the appointment of a guardian won’t take effect where there is a surviving parent, but where following divorce proceedings a residence order has been made in favour of the parent appointing the guardian, the appointment will take effect on that parent's death.
What happens to a Will if a client gets remarried?
Similar to the situation when the client married for the first time, if they remarry their current Will is revoked. If they do not draw up a new Will, then their estate will be divided under the rules of intestacy.
Whatever the circumstances, reviewing the Will or getting a Will created can be crucial to help make sure wishes are met and the right beneficiaries are stipulated.
Whether it’s taking your clients instructions for their Will or simply passing their details onto us, we will help make sure they have the right future planning in place to suit their circumstances, ensuring a happy and confident client for you.