It is unlikely that the prospect of making a Will or addressing your financial security in the future is top of your list when planning a wedding- not when your mind is on a thousand other things. Addressing your Will may not be steeped in romance, but it is crucially important and something you really do need to consider in the lead up.
In simple terms, if you already have a Will, it will become invalid upon your upcoming nuptials. It needs to be re-written, even if it benefits the same person or people. If you don’t have a Will, this is the perfect time to write one- but it is very important you do it in a specific way and with specialist advice.
A Will in Contemplation of Marriage
Making a Will in Contemplation of Marriage is effectively the inserting of a clause stating that the Will has been made in the full knowledge that a marriage to a specified person is happening within a reasonable timeframe, and this subsequent change in status should not render the Will invalid.
Section 18 of the Wills Act 1837 allows a Will to be drawn up “in contemplation of marriage to a particular person”. From 2005 this was extended to also include civil partnerships. A Will in Contemplation of Marriage means your subsequent marriage will not revoke the Will. This is particularly important where you have children from a previous relationship, for example.
If there is no Will in place, or your previous one has been revoked upon marriage, upon your death, your estate will be distributed by the Intestacy Rules. This means your spouse may not be entitled to anything from your estate, or certainly not to everything as you would specifically want it. The same applies to stepchildren, friends and godchildren, as your estate would be distributed simply to certain family members. Creating a Will in Contemplation of Marriage ensures your loved ones receive your estate exactly how you would want them to.
Wills And Probate Experts
You should seek specialist advice when planning a Will, and particularly where a Will in Contemplation of Marriage applies. The 1837 Act may seem outdated and far too traditional, but it still applies by law, and it is important that the Will you create follows specific guidance and that the wording is clear and unambiguous.
There are many clauses to the Act, but essentially, it states that:
- You have to name a specific person you intend to marry. You can’t simply speculate that one day you intend to get married;
- The named marriage or civil partnership must be imminent. You can’t claim that you one day intend to marry, as it must be planned and happen within a ‘reasonable period.’
If you have any plans to marry and you are concerned about making a Will, or if you have a valid Will that needs to be revised to satisfy this scenario, contact our Wills and Probate department today. We have experienced, specialist staff who can take care of this process for you and advise on your options.