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By Spencers Solicitors

  Samantha Ibrahim    
  February 7, 2018

It’s National Marriage Week – Make a Will or Review a Will

We're getting married!

Many life events trigger people to think about Wills but there are still so many people that do not get a Will or they do not have their Wills reviewed regularly.

Marriage is a significant event regardless or your background or your religion. There are many things that everyone concentrates on when getting married like, getting the right dress or suit, booking the right venue, getting the best caterers, making sure the cake matches the colour scheme but there is one other pressing matter that should be considered when you are getting married and that is making a Will. So why is making a Will when you get married or making a Will in contemplation of marriage so important?

  • Whether you are thinking of making a Will for the first time or you already have a Will in place, not many people know that getting married in England and Wales automatically revokes your Will if it was made prior to your marriage.
  • The only exception to this rule is if you made your Will in contemplation of marriage. There are specific rules to making a Will in contemplation of marriage:
    • The Wills Act 1837 allows you to draw up in a Will in contemplation of marriage. Under the Civil Partnership Act this provision was extended so that it would include Wills drawn up in contemplation of a civil partnership too.
    • In order for such a Will to be valid, it must name a specific person that you intend to marry or enter into a civil partnership with. It cannot be a Will that simply states that you generally intend to get married or enter into a civil partnership but you are not sure who to yet.
    • The marriage or civil partnership must take place soon after the Will is made, so in the foreseeable future. To ensure that there are no issues the Will should be immediately before the marriage ceremony or within a few months thereof.
    • It needs to be clearly stated within the Will that the testator (the person making the Will) does not intend their marriage or civil partnership to revoke the Will.

So, what happens if you do not make a new Will once you are married?

  • You will be deemed to have died intestate which means that your new spouse may only get the first £250,000 worth of your estate dependent on whether you have children or not.
  • If your estate is worth less than £250,000 any children you have already from a previous relationship will be left out and will not receive anything.
  • If your estate is worth less than £250,000 any god children, nieces, nephews and other family or friends that you may wish to leave a gift to will not receive anything.

You may think that you do not have a lot and so your estate is not worth much. However, once you get married or enter into a civil partnership you generally start to accumulate things. You might get new cars, buy property, you might have valuable pension or life insurance policies in place.

You might have a collection of art, stamps, action figures or you could be a dedicated follower of fashion that you had before you got married that could be worth an absolute fortune.

Digital Property is definitely discounted by most people when thinking about the value of their estate. Digital Property includes internet accounts, data such as emails, word processing documents, spreadsheets, pictures, audio files such as music that you have downloaded and movies and games amongst other things.

If you have an extensive collection of music, movies and games that you have downloaded and paid for then you probably have a fortune at your fingertips that you have not even thought about.

However much you think your estate is worth, when you get married or enter into a civil partnership your responsibility increases.

Make making a Will part of your arrangements when you are arranging your special day.

About the Author

Samantha Ibrahim is a Private Client Practitioner within our Wills and Probate team.

Samantha joined Spencers Solicitors in 2010 and is the lead Private Client Practitioner in our Wills and Probate Department. Her role involves taking instructions on and drafting Wills, lasting powers of attorney for individuals and businesses, making applications for Court of Protection deputyship, probate, all aspects of administration of estates and deeds of variation. This includes contentious probate.

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