What happens if you die when you are getting divorced?

10 Dec

A coffin with a flower arrangement in a morgue

What happens if you die when you are getting divorced?

 

If you have a Will, then until decree absolute is granted, you are still considered married, even if you have decree nisi.  If you are legally considered married and your Will gives a benefit to your spouse, then they will inherit that gift.  So if you are part way through divorcing them, they may get far more than you would give them in the divorce process.

 

If you haven’t got a Will, then your estate is subject to the rules of intestacy, which will potentially benefit a number of relatives (depending on the size of the estate), but principally it will be your spouse.  Again, they may get more from your death than they would get from the divorce.  And to cover the point about the incentive around you dying, if they are proven to have killed you, then the rules around murder to not allow them to benefit from their criminal act, so the good news is that there is no incentive for them to kill you!

 

Once you have got decree absolute, if you have a Will then the Will is read as though your now divorced spouse has predeceased you, so they will no longer benefit.  If you don’t have a Will, after decree absolute, you also don’t have a spouse, so there is a priority list of family members who will inherit.

 

If you get married either again or for the first time, unless you made a Will in contemplation of marriage, then your Will is revoked by the marriage and you are left with the rules of intestacy, which benefits principally your spouse and potentially other family members depending upon the size of the estate.

 

So the key message is MAKE A WILL, it will stop your spouse getting more than you want if you are in the process of divorcing.  It will allow you to make choices about who you do want to inherit, which if you aren’t divorcing may be your spouse, but might not.

 

Wills can be a series of documents, as your life develops and your circumstances change, but you will only get what you want, if you continuously update it as your circumstances change.  If there is a significant change in either your assets or your family you should review the terms of your Will, to make sure that it still works for you and if it doesn’t see a solicitor and create a new one.

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