Marriage, Divorce & your Will

Marriage, separation and divorce are all significant life events.  When these occur, you need to ask, “do I need a new Will?”

If you are a business owner, then the question is even more important.


Basic rule: – If you get married, your old Will is of no effect unless it was made in contemplation of your marriage.

So, if you were to die after your marriage but before you had made a new Will, your estate will be dealt with as if you died intestate (without a Will). Your new spouse may miss out on some assets that you intended to give to them.

Business Owners:- You may wish to re-visit your asset protection strategies.   Consider who will control your assets and business after you are gone and how and where any income might flow.  Assume the worst!

Ask who will control your company and who will have the power to appoint a new trustee of a family trust may be controlled by your legal personal representative  – which could be the Public trustee if you die intestate.


Basic Rule: – Separation has no effect on your Will.

Separation and divorce are treated quite differently when it comes to estate planning. If you die before your divorce is finalized by the court, then any gifts to your ex-spouse under your Will remain valid.

Business Owners:- Before you make a new Will, consult your family lawyer.  The assets of the marriage which can be divided between you and your former spouse include personal, business and investment assets.  Family law financial arrangements can become complicated and will not necessarily be based on who owns the assets.  What this means is that you may not know what is in your estate, so making a new Will needs to be done carefully.


Basic Rule:- If you get divorced, the old Will remains on foot but gifts to your former spouse will be of no effect. Any appointment of your former spouse as an executor will also cease to be effective on divorce.

Business Owners:- Now is the time to tidy things up.  Revise your Will so that it reflects your new intentions and there is no risk of a partial intestacy.

This article is not to be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice.  If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact us.

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