If you have an existing Will which names your partner or spouse as beneficiary to inherit all (or some) of your assets, then this will still happen, even if you have legally separated and have made a separation settlement of finances. This can include property, savings and your business. If you haven’t yet divorced or made a new Will, the old Will still stands.
What if you have no Will? If you are married, then your spouse will still inherit from you according to the laws of intestacy. If you separate, you should make a new Will before you finalise your divorce, if you don’t want this to happen.
What if you are not married and have no Will? Co-habiting couples will not inherit from each other. There is no time limit (ie., 2 or 5 years), and the rules of intestacy will apply instead. If you are living together as a couple and wish (or expect) your partner to inherit from you, you will need to make a Will. If you are living with a new partner, but not yet divorced, then your ex-spouse will still inherit (unless you have made a new Will so this does not happen).
If you have made Wills previously, you have probably named your husband/wife as both executor and beneficiary. Once you have divorced, they are treated the same as if they had pre-deceased, and any ‘reserve’ executors or beneficiaries will take their place. If you do not have any ‘reserves’, then the rules of intestacy apply. However, your ex-spouse may still be able to make a claim against your estate if they have still a financial dependence.
Any Will that’s made prior to marriage becomes invalid. If you have children, especially in a blended family where children have different parents, it’s always best to seek advice on the best way to make a Will to give a fair and happy outcome for all the family, new and old.
Review your Will
It’s especially important to review and update your Will after any major life event – marriage, separation & divorce, children and family death.