Frettens Banner Image


News and Events

What happens to a Will after divorce?

View profile for Sevil Yildirim
  • Posted
  • Author
What happens to a Will after divorce?

What happens to a Will after divorce? It’s a question that a lot of our clients have asked us in the past.

So, in this article, Trainee Solicitor Sevil Yildirim aims to clear up any confusion by sketching out exactly what happens to a Will after divorce, whether its invalidated and if you need to make a new one.

Does divorce invalidate a Will?

A divorce does not revoke or invalidate an existing Will. Any pre-existing Will would remain valid.

However, if your now ex-spouse is included within the Will, they will be treated as if they have died and will not be entitled to any of your estate.

Do I need to update my Will after divorce?

Although your ex-spouse will no longer be entitled to your estate, you may wish to update your Will following your divorce.

It is advisable to, at the very least, review your Will with your solicitor in any major life event, such as divorce, to make sure that your wishes are still accurately reflected within it.

It is worth noting, should anything happen to you prior to your divorce, your spouse will continue to inherit their share. Although we appreciate this can be a very stressful time, you may wish to update any existing Will during divorce proceedings to prevent your spouse from receiving an inheritance from your estate.

However, if after your divorce, you still wish your ex-spouse to inherit some of your estate, or you would like to add someone else to the Will, such as a current partner you, will need to update any existing Will.

What about my children?

If you have children, you might want to reconsider your wishes with regards to who you would like to look after them. If you have previously appointed your ex-spouse as trustee of a trust for the benefit of your children, or as their guardian, the trust would be invalid upon divorce.

So, you’ll need to update your Will to choose a new trustee/guardian, or make sure that your ex-spouse will still be this person despite the divorce.

Related: Updating Your Will - When, Why and How?

What if I don’t have a Will? Should I write one now?

If you do not have a Will in place, you may wish to make one during the early stages of your divorce proceedings or after the final order.

A Will can ensure that any finances and assets that you own (perhaps those that were split during divorce) are passed on to people of your choosing and that your children are looked after when you die.

What happens if I don’t have a Will?

Without a Will in place, your assets will be distributed according to Intestacy Rules.

These rules are fixed and may not divide your estate and assets how you wish. For example, wider relatives outside of your children, such as parents, grandchildren, grandparents, won’t be accounted for.

If you want to have a say in who is and isn't entitled to your estate, you should create a Will to ensure your wishes are carried out correctly.

In addition, if you pass away without a Will the future of your children, and who they are to live with, may be uncertain.

Further to this point, if your spouse was the sole beneficiary in your Will, following divorce, your Will would become ineffective as your spouse will be treated as though they have died and there will be no substitute beneficiaries to inherit. Once again, this means your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.

You can use our intestacy flowchart here to find out how your estate would be distributed if you did not have a Will in place.

Or, find out what would happen to your children here.

Is my Will void if I remarry?

If you do not change your will when you divorce and end up remarrying, your current Will becomes invalid, unless it has been specifically written to cover these circumstances – the same applies to a civil partnership.

If you live with a new partner but are not married, contrary to common knowledge, you do not have an automatic right to inherit from each other, unless you make a Will showing what you want to happen to your assets, including jointly owned property.

What happens if a Will is void?

If your Will becomes void or invalid for whatever reason, your assets will again be dealt with under the intestacy rules so they may not be shared as you expect or want.

If your Will does become void, you should write a new one that is valid and up to date.

So, what should I do?

The best advice is to make a new Will immediately after your divorce, especially if your ex-partner was a beneficiary or a trustee.

You do not have to wait for the final order of the divorce and can make a new Will at any time after separation, before divorce, in order to protect yourself against the aforementioned issues.

Our advice

Wills & Tax Trainee Sevil Yildirim says: “It is important to have an expert lawyer on side to provide clear, practical advice when creating your Will.

The process doesn’t take long, and our bright team will be there to help you tailor your Will to your unique circumstances, needs and wishes.”

You can call us on 01202 499255, or fill out the form at the top of this page, for a free initial chat.

Can my ex-wife claim my inheritance after divorce?

Yes, if the ex-spouse has not remarried or formed a new civil partnership, and the parties have failed to reach a formal financial settlement order or achieved a clean break, an ex-spouse could make a claim against the Deceased’s estate.

Such a claim would have to be brought within six months of the Grant of Probate being issued.

For advice on making or preventing a claim of this sort, you can read our dedicated article here.

Wills & Tax Specialist Solicitors

At Frettens, our bright and experienced team of Wills experts are best placed to assist you and would be happy to discuss your circumstances with you over the phone or in person.

If you would like to speak to a member of our team, or ask any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 01202 499255. We offer a free initial chat for all new clients.

Related Articles

The content of this article, blog or video is not intended as specific legal advice. For tailored assistance, please contact a member of our team.