Does Divorce Revoke Your Will?

If you have made a Will and you subsequently get married then your Will is automatically revoked. This happens in every case, unless you have stated otherwise within the Will itself. What happens, however, if instead of getting married you are getting divorced? Does getting divorced revoke your will in the same way that getting married does?

The answer is that divorce does not revoke your will, but it does change it. Once your decree absolute is issued then the law automatically removes your ex husband or ex wife from your Willl. Your Will is then interpreted as if your former spouse had died before you. So, for example, if they were appointed as your executor then the appointment will automatically cease. In addition, if your spouse was to be one of the beneficiaries of the will then this will also no longer take effect.

In the majority of circumstances, the removal of a former husband or wife will accord with your wishes. This is not always the case, however, and in some circumstances despite the divorce you do want your former spouse to be included. If this is the case then following your divorce you will need to re-execute your Will. If you do not then your ex wife or husband will automatically be written out and will receive nothing.

When this automatic writing out of your former spouse occurs, the result is that any provision you have made in the Will appointing a replacement executor or beneficiary will take effect. This is an acceptable position if your Will contains such a provision, but sometimes Wills do not. If this happens then it is the rules intestacy that apply and will then govern who your executors or beneficiaries are. In such circumstances it is advisable to make a new Will so you can decide who inherits, rather than the intestacy rules.

One final point to note, is the fact that until your decree absolute is granted your Will remains as it is. This is regardless of the fact you may have separated and even if a divorce petition has been issued. In these circumstances there is no automatic exclusion of your wife or husband from your Will. If you die then they inherit anything you have left them in your Will and in most cases this will be the entirety of your estate. It is for this reason that if you are separating then you will almost certainly need to change your Will before the decree absolute is granted to ensure that your present spouse does not inherit.