Most people know they need to change their Will when they get divorced or if they end a civil partnership. However, it is just as important to make a Will, or to review the terms of your existing Will, if you decide to separate from a partner. Will writing can be low down on the priorities when you are going through the trauma and upheaval of separation, but at Solomons Solicitors, our team can help you write or review your Will.
Contact our team today to find out how we can help you.
What happens if you separate but do not change your Will?
If you separate from your husband or wife your existing Will remains valid. As most married couples leave the majority of their estate to their surviving spouse that means an estranged husband or wife could inherit the majority of the estate despite the separation. Your children, your parents, or other friends or family could feel that your Will did not reflect your new personal circumstances.
Whilst some people can make a claim against an estate if a Will fails to make reasonable financial provisions for them, the need for an estate claim might have been avoided if you changed your Will when you separated rather than wait to change your Will until after you finalise your divorce.
What happens if you separate and you do not have a Will?
If you pass away without writing a Will, your estate passes under intestacy rules to your nearest relatives. If you are married but separated, and you do not have children, then all your estate will pass to your surviving husband or wife under intestacy rules. If you have children, your surviving spouse will receive the first £270,000 of the estate plus your personal possessions and half the remainder of the estate.
Whilst your children or other relatives could make a claim against your estate alleging the intestacy rules did not make reasonable financial provisions for them there are no guarantees that their claim will succeed. That is why, whether or not you have children, it is preferable to make a Will if you separate from your spouse.
Can you change your Will before you get divorced?
It is often assumed that you cannot change your Will before you get divorced, but that is a myth. Changing your Will when you separate can protect your loved ones, whether they are your children, a new partner, or your parents.
A Will solicitor also looks at what other paperwork needs changing because of your separation. For example:
- If you own a property with your spouse as joint tenants you may want to sever the joint tenancy. If you do not sever the tenancy, your share of the property will automatically pass to your surviving husband or wife, even if you have made a new Will. Severing the joint tenancy is a step you can take independently of your spouse. Your Will solicitor can discuss the merits of severing the tenancy when preparing your new Will for you.
- If you have life insurance, you may want to change the beneficiary.
- If you have a pension, it may be possible to change who gets pension benefits.
- If you have a lasting power of attorney (LPA) and you appointed your estranged spouse as one of your attorneys, you may want to change the LPA to appoint a new attorney.
Will solicitors know that family separation is a difficult time, so they will help you by making the process of changing your Will as straightforward as possible. With their support, you can focus on rebuilding your life after your separation, knowing that your family or loved ones are protected by your new Will.
Speak to our Bournemouth-based Will Solicitors today
Solomons Solicitors can help with Will, lasting power of attorney, and estate planning support so that you understand your options and you have the legal paperwork you need to provide peace of mind.