Focus On: Updating your Will after Divorce

2 February 2021 
2 minutes
Family Law, Wills & Estates

Making a Will or amending a previously made Will is strongly recommended after you have divorced and received your Decree Absolute.

Under Article 13 of the Wills and Administration Proceedings (NI) Order 1994, any gifts to former spouses will be treated as though a former spouse has died on the date of divorce.

Whilst the Northern Irish legislation does ensure that divorce disentitles a former spouse from receiving any previously determined assets in your Will, this can lead to gifts failing and parts of your estate being distributed under the laws of intestacy – taking away your control of how you wish to assign your estate!

It will also often be the case that if you had prepared a Will prior to divorce, that your spouse has been appointed your executor. If this is not amended, your former spouse will have to renounce their executorship in the event of your death, which could result in further distress and tension for your family.

If you decide not to divorce but instead separate from your spouse, it is still vital that you create a Will. Under the laws of intestacy (what happens if you don’t make a Will), your former spouse will be entitled to a majority share of your estate regardless of your living situation.

Similarly, if you are co-habiting with your partner and are not yet married or do not intend to marry, should you wish for your estate to be left to that loved one it is imperative that a Will is made as cohabitees are not immediately entitled.

If you have yet to make a Will, need to make amendments to one, or if you have any further questions on the article above, please contact Rachel Scroggie from our Private Client team. Alternatively, talk to a member of our Family Law team who will be happy to assist.

This article is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional legal advice.

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