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Do I need a new Will if I get married? Do I need a new Will if I get divorced?

By: Kate Saldanha

Any major life change should encourage you to think about your Will and whether it is meeting your current needs. When it comes to your Will, two especially important life changes are marriage and divorce.

Marriage

When you get married after making a Will, your existing Will is generally revoked and becomes invalid. Because the Will is invalid, it is as though you never made a Will in the first place. If you do not make a new Will, when you die your property will be divided in accordance with the laws the government has made for people who die without Wills.

If you are making a Will and believe you may get married in the future, a Will can be drafted in contemplation of marriage. In order to be in contemplation of marriage, the Will must contain language which acknowledges that it is being made in contemplation of marriage to a particular person. If the Will does include this language, it will remain valid following the marriage.

Since specific language which must be used for a Will to be in contemplation of marriage, it is a good idea to review your Will with your lawyer after you get married to make sure that it is still valid. It is also a good idea to review your Will with your lawyer to make sure your Will is up to date and that you have made appropriate provision for your new spouse.

Divorce

When you divorce after making a Will, your existing Will remains valid but the paragraphs benefitting your former spouse are revoked. Specifically, all clauses giving your former spouse property or appointing your former spouse as the executor or trustee become invalid. The Will is valid but is interpreted as though the former spouse died before you, the person who wrote the will; any paragraphs involving your former spouse become ineffective but the rest of the Will remains in force.

However, it is important to note that these rules apply only where the marriage is terminated by a divorce. These rules do not apply if a couple is separated but not divorced. Separation does not impact the validity of a Will. Because separation does not revoke your Will or the portions of it that benefit your spouse, it is important to update your Will if you do not wish to benefit your spouse.

Whether you have gone through a marriage, divorce, or separation, if you have had a change in your relationship status, it is important to make sure that your Will is valid. It is also important to make sure that your Will it reflects your wishes and leaves your assets to the people you want to receive your property and money. Our lawyers are able to assist you in developing an estate plan to meet your needs and goals. Contact a member of our Wills and Estates team to make sure your family is protected according to your wishes.

Please note that any knowledge gained from information here cannot be used as legal advice unless under legal retainer from PDC. See our Terms of Service for more information