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  • Writer's pictureMaplebrook Services

How Marriage Affects a Will

Updated: Jul 9

Marriage is a significant life event that can have profound implications on many aspects of a person's life, including their estate planning. One crucial document that may be affected by marriage is a Will. Understanding how marriage impacts a Will is essential for ensuring that your estate is distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. This article will explore the key ways in which marriage can influence a Will.


Automatic Revocation in Some Jurisdictions


In many jurisdictions, getting married automatically revokes any existing Will. This means that if you have a Will in place before you get married, it may become invalid as soon as you tie the knot. The rationale behind this rule is that marriage significantly changes your circumstances, and the law assumes that you would want to make a new Will that reflects your new marital status and your spouse's rights.


For example, in England and Wales, the Wills Act 1837 states that a Will is revoked by the marriage of the testator (the person who made the Will), unless the Will was made in

Two gold wedding rings

contemplation of that marriage. This means that if you want your existing Will to remain valid after you get married, you need to specify in the Will that it was made in contemplation of your upcoming marriage.


Changes in Entitlements


Marriage often changes the entitlements of your spouse under your Will. Most legal systems provide certain automatic rights for spouses when it comes to inheritance. These rights can affect how your estate is distributed, even if you have a Will in place.


In many jurisdictions, spouses are entitled to a portion of the estate regardless of the Will's provisions. For instance, in Scotland, the concept of "legal rights" means that a surviving spouse (and children) have a right to claim a portion of the deceased's movable estate, regardless of what the Will states. This ensures that spouses are provided for, even if they are not specifically mentioned in the Will.


Need for Updating Your Will


Last Will and Testament document

Given that marriage can revoke a Will or change the entitlements of your spouse, it is crucial to update your Will after getting married. Updating your Will allows you to reflect your new marital status and ensure that your spouse is appropriately provided for according to your wishes.


When updating your Will, you can:


  • Include your spouse as a beneficiary.

  • Appoint your spouse as an executor.

  • Make specific bequests to your spouse.

  • Ensure that any previous provisions that are no longer relevant are removed or modified.

  • By updating your Will, you can prevent potential disputes and confusion after your death, providing clarity and peace of mind for your loved ones.


Considerations for Second Marriages


Second marriages can introduce additional complexities when it comes to Wills and estate planning. If you have children from a previous marriage, you may want to ensure that they are also provided for in your Will. Balancing the needs and rights of a new spouse with those of children from a prior marriage can be challenging, and careful planning is required.


In these cases, it is often advisable to seek legal advice to create a Will that fairly addresses the interests of all parties involved. This might include setting up trusts, making specific bequests, or using life insurance policies to provide for children separately from the estate.


Whether it's your first marriage or a subsequent one, careful planning and advice are essential to navigate the complexities of Wills and marriage.


If you require any further information or advice, please consult with a qualified Will Writer at Maplebrook Services Ltd today by contacting the office on +357 26600780 or by emailing info@maplebrookservices.com.

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