Here’s the scenario: you already had your will prepared. Your personal affairs suddenly took a different turn, however, and it led you to file a divorce from your partner. Do you need to update your will following the separation?
Your will should reflect any major changes in your relationship. Marriage, for instance, can render your will invalid, hence the need to update it after this significant relationship change.
The same is true with a separation or divorce. Nyst Legal’s Gisele Reid, a well-respected family law practitioner on the Gold Coast, says it’s necessary to change a will after a divorce or separation to make sure it reflects the changes in the situation as well as your current wishes.
Divorce vs Separation
Divorce revokes the provisions you make for your former spouse. However, marriage separation or the period of separation that happens prior to the divorce does not. The best time to make sure your will reflects the changes in the circumstances is during separation.
Divorce affects your will and all its provisions, but the gravity is different in every territory and state. In some jurisdictions, your will is automatically rendered invalid following a divorce. In others, meanwhile, divorce will only revoke your former partner as your executor.
What Are Possible Consequences of Not Updating a Will?
Death may be a form of divorce, but not in the eyes of the law. The absence of an updated will means that your former spouse will still inherit your assets, even if you pass away after marriage separation. If you re-published your will after the divorce but failed to change the executor appointment or gift, your former spouse will be entitled to take the role or gift, regardless if it’s against your wishes.
The only time you can prevent your former spouse from inheriting your assets is after the court has issued a reverse order. If you have a will that contemplates a divorce taking place or a property settlement, it is likely that the appropriate clauses are inserted in your will after a settlement. In this case, it may not be imperative to prepare another will after the divorce.
Reid suggests seeking advice before drafting a will or revising an existing one. A good lawyer will be able to provide sound legal advice that will help you make sure your hard-earned properties are protected.