Amongst the busyness of planning a wedding and getting married, updating your Will is probably not on your "to do" checklist.
However many people may not realise that marriage actually revokes a Will.
If you die without updating your Will after marrying, the rules of intestacy apply. As discussed in greater detail ("The perils of leaving it to chance"), if you do not have any children, then 100% of your assets will go to your spouse, which is what you may want anyway, however if you have children, they may be entitled to some of the assets. This is of course problematic if the only asset is the family home, which you intended would be transferred to your spouse alone.
Additionally, if you have a blended family, then the outcome of the intestacy may not be at all in accordance with your wishes.
How can I avoid this situation happening?
Obviously, the best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out is to update your Will as soon as you marry. However if you and your partner are making a new Will and marriage is pending you can make your Will "in contemplation of marriage" to your future spouse. In this case, your Will remains valid after the marriage, giving you peace of mind while you are on your honeymoon!
What about separation and divorce?
It is also important to keep in mind the effect of other relationship changes on your Will. Separation from a spouse does not invalidate your Will or any of the clauses in it. Therefore it is essential to update your Will as soon as possible after separating, to avoid a situation when a sudden death leaves all of your assets going to your ex-partner.
Similarly, although divorce does not invalidate your whole Will, it does invalidate the clauses relating to or benefiting your ex-spouse.
To avoid being caught out in a messy situation, remember to add "update Will" to your checklist if you’re getting married, separating or when your divorce is made. Speak to one of our Will & Powers of Attorney team at OFRM who will happily guide you through the process and ensure your Will is valid and up to date. Call 03 5445 1000.