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Changing your will following a divorce. Your divorce means your will is out of date and needs a rewrite.
Changing your will following a divorce

Your personal circumstances can change at any time. It’s important to review your will when this happens, particularly if you get a divorce.

How does my divorce affect my will?

Ending your marriage or civil partnership by a legal divorce or annulment means that anything you left to your former spouse or civil partner will be treated as though they died on the date your divorce was finalised.

Not changing your will therefore means that any gift granted to them will automatically go to the remaining or substitute residuary beneficiary – the person who is to receive anything in your will that isn’t left to a designated person. If there are no other residuary beneficiaries or substitute beneficiaries, your estate will be passed on via the intestacy rules.

You may have named your former spouse or civil partner as a trustee or executor, but your divorce will revoke their appointment.

If you have children

If you have children, get divorced and don't leave a valid will, according to intestacy rules, your estate would go to your children, providing you died before remarrying or entering into a civil partnership. If you want to leave something to your stepchildren or former partner, you would have to specify this in your will, as it won’t automatically pass to them.

Do I need a new will after I divorce?

Ideally, you should make a new will straight after your divorce to ensure your assets are distributed as you want them to be – even if you do want some of your assets to go to your former spouse. This is especially important if you had named your ex-spouse as executor, trustee or beneficiary.

You can change your will straight after your separation, before your divorce is finalised, especially if the process is taking a while.

Changing a will with a codicil

Many people use a codicil to change their will. This allows you to make amendments to an existing will instead of creating a new one.

It may be that only one or two things need changing, but even then, a codicil still needs to be signed and witnessed in exactly the same way as a will. Although there aren't specific rules on what you can alter with a codicil, if you need to change large sections of your will or several parts of it, it's better to rewrite it completely.

Remember to let your executor know where your will is so they can find it when needed.

The content of this article is not a substitute for comprehensive legal advice, and is solely available for information purposes. For tailored advice on changing your will after a divorce, the team at Which? Legal are here to help. Call 0117 456 6020 to find out more.



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