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All I want for Christmas is You

Christmas is a special time of the year for many and some take the opportunity when all the family is together to pop the question and ask their partner to marry them - perhaps there is a small cube-shaped present under the tree.

Of course, getting the right answer is fantastic news and it could be tempting to get plans in motion straight away and set a date for the big day as soon as possible.

It is very important to remember, however, that getting married or entering into a civil partnership will impact on the estate planning you may have already done and in particular, it may impact on the validity of your Will.

What’s the problem?

Marriage or civil partnerships will automatically revoke any existing Will you (or your new spouse/civil partner) already have in place. From the point of your marriage or civil partnership, you will be intestate and the provisions of your existing Will will not take effect on your death.

Ultimately this means that if you die without preparing a new Will, your estate will be administered in accordance with the intestacy rules which may not reflect your wishes.

This can be a particular problem if you have children from a previous relationship who you would have wished to have benefitted on your death or indeed if you have children with your new spouse/civil partner as the rules of intestacy stipulate that they may receive some of your estate depending on the value of the same.

Preparing a new Will will invariably mean more legal fees and the inconvenience of having to make the necessary arrangements but it is essential to avoid you dying intestate.

What can I do to prevent this?

Be prepared for the “yes”!

It may be a bit of a mood-killer and certainly takes the surprise element out of proceedings but it is possible to make an existing Will “in contemplation of” either the marriage or civil partnership. Provided the Will contains this particular provision and refers to the intended spouse or civil partner then the Will is not automatically revoked by the marriage or civil partnership and continues to be legally valid.

In conclusion

Either plan ahead or plan to make changes once the marriage takes effect. It is always best to die with a valid Will in place so, either way, the sooner a new Will is prepared the better.

Perhaps best, however, not to gift your betrothed a Will making kit with their engagement ring! Let us take care of this for you.