When a marriage or relationship breaks up, you have plenty on your mind. What would happen if you died is probably something you don’t want to think about, but a few minutes’ attention now could save more heartache later on. “I’m not divorced, but I’ve left my husband.” “My wife walked out on me.”
These are very difficult situations. You are still legally married, however bad your relationship. A separation has no effect on a Will – so your husband or wife could still inherit under your Will, no matter how long you have been apart.
If you started another relationship after parting from your spouse, you may want to think about making a Will providing for your new responsibilities. A partner to whom you are not married cannot inherit from you unless you make a Will providing for him or her, and they may have to go to court to get provision from your estate.
EFFECT OF DIVORCE If you have made a Will before your divorce your Will is still valid, but this creates a number of problems. Many married couples appoint each other as executor and leave their estates to each other, either alone or to share with the children. Divorce cancels the former spouse’s appointment as executor and all gifts to him or her in the Will, although other gifts remain valid. If the spouse was given the larger part of the estate, this means that, after divorce, there is no one to inherit this property and the Intestacy Rules will apply. So a divorced person with children would find that his or her estate would go to their children. However, should that person and his or her children die together – say in a car crash – the estate would go to the children’s next of kin – probably the former spouse. This may or may not be what you would wish.
OWN A HOUSE TOGETHER? _Many clients I see are unaware of the following:
IF A HOUSE (OR SAVINGS/BANK ACCOUNTS) ARE OWNED JOINTLY, IF ONE PERSON DIES THE OTHER AUTOMATICALLY INHERITS! THIS IS DESPITE WHAT A WILL MAY SAY OR EVEN IF ONE EXISTS AT ALL.
There is a way around this but this is where professional advice is needed as each case is unique.
Bottom line is, if you, your relative or friend is separated/divorced seek professional advice with regard to your estate passing safely to the people you wish.