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Divorced and haven't got a Will?

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What happens if the worst should happen? If you are divorced and have children but no Will, what happens to your estate? Would your children inherit or would your ex-husband have a claim?

Wills & Tax Partner Lee Young says, “Provided you are fully divorced ( the decree absolute has been issued) then under the intestacy provisions (the rules that govern where somebody’s estate goes when there is no Will) your estate would pass equally to your children when they reach the age of 18. Your ex-husband is no longer related to you and therefore would not feature in the list of beneficiaries under intestacy rules.” If you are still married then your husband would be the first in line to inherit, although if your estate was worth more than £250,000 he would ‘only’ receive the first £250,000 and half the balance on trust. The other half would go to your children equally, again at the age of 18.

In the financial settlement provisions of your divorce there should be a statement that neither of you can claim against the other’s estate upon death. If the provisions of the divorce did not include such a statement, or there is no financial agreement and you financially maintain your ex-husband, then he may well have a claim against your estate on your death. This claim would be made under the Inheritance (Provision for Dependants) Act 1975. The opposite applies – if he financially maintains you then on his death you would have a claim against him. Financial maintenance would include any spousal maintenance the divorce arrangements stipulated that were still being paid to the recipient when he or she died.

You may still have a Will in place from when you were married which needs to be updated after divorce to ensure that your estate goes to the people you want it to go to.

We have offices in the Christchurch, New Milton and the New Forest. Our Wills & Tax team also cover Bournemouth and Poole. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Lee or a member of his team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.