With so many things to consider during divorce proceedings, the one thing that couples can easily forget is that until they have a decree absolute granted by a court, they are still married. Here we consider the implications of this in relation to wills and look at how to ensure that if you pass away during divorce proceedings, your wishes will be carried out.
Why you need to update your will
Ensuring that you have made a will and more importantly keeping it up to date in the light of changing circumstances, it is vital if you want to ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event of your death. Specialist will solicitors can help with drafting a will in the first instance. During divorce proceedings, updating your will is even more important, as your partner is likely to be the main beneficiary of your estate which may no longer be your intention.
Additionally, it is worth considering the fact that if you have not made a will at all then under the rules of intestacy and as your next of kin, your partner will be the beneficiary of your estate. Your divorce lawyers should be able to advise as to whether updating your will is necessary.
How to update your will
All wills require two or three executors, who are usually friends, family or professionals. Their role is to carry out the last wishes of the deceased. There is every likelihood that a spouse or partner from whom you are in the process of becoming divorced will be one of the executors for your will. This may well be something that you will wish to change. The person you choose to succeed them should be over 18, of sound mind, not imprisoned or bankrupt. These are the only restrictions and contrary to popular belief, there is nothing to stop an executor from also being a beneficiary.
Issues in a will relating to children will also require some attention. If your spouse or partner does not have parental responsibility for the children then it will be necessary to use your will to appoint an appropriate guardian. Additionally, if any children of the marriage are due to inherit any part of the estate and they are under the age of 18, then you will need to appoint trustees who can look after and manage their inheritance until they reach adulthood.
The status of the ownership of the matrimonial home will need to change and it is likely that you and your spouse will need to become tenants in common. This means that you will each own a share, whether equally or not and will enable each of you to include your personal share in a will and leave it to whomsoever you choose.
If you are updating your will, particularly during divorce proceedings, it is essential that you consult with a reputable firm of will solicitors who can review and adjust your will in accordance with your wishes. This will ensure that your estate and the interests of your nominated beneficiaries are protected in the event of your death.