Whether you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting with someone, a relationship can end. With any separation and divorce, even if it is amicable, there are steps each person should take to reflect their change of circumstances. Below details a number of steps you must consider with any separation and divorce.
- A divorce affects inheritance under a Will. Although you may have separated, you remain legally married until Decree Absolute is obtained within divorce proceedings. Obtaining Decree Absolute in divorce proceedings can however take time, and is often delayed to allow for financial matters to be resolved. As a result, if you die before a divorce is finalised, and without a will in place, your estate may pass to your spouse under the intestacy rules or under the terms of any will you have not reviewed. Therefore, you may wish to update your will upon any separation.
- Once the final Order of divorce, the Decree Absolute, has been obtained you should also consider either changing your existing Will or making a Will. Obtaining Decree Absolute legally brings your marriage to an end and would mean that any gift to your spouse in your Will or appointment of them as executor will no longer take effect
- If you are considering divorce, as well as obtaining legal advice on your existing Will, you should also obtain legal advice regarding the divorce process itself and resolving financial matters as obtaining Decree Absolute alone will not deal with the financial claims resulting from your marriage.
- Separating does not change the terms of a Will. The safest way to ensure that any terms of a Will do not apply is to obtain legal advice as to the terms of the Will and whether a new Will needs to be made.
- Whether you are married/civil partners or not, any property you co-own may pass automatically to the survivor of you. This can depend on how you own the property jointly together. You should obtain legal advice about what you can do to prevent any property passing to your ex-spouse/partner automatically, including severing the joint tenancy.
- Changing your Will alone cannot prevent property passing automatically to the survivor.
- Emergency contact details should be updated to ensure the correct people are contacted.
- Death in Service (DIS) benefits and work-based pension schemes may offer the option of paying any sum due to other beneficiaries instead of it being paid into a person’s estate. A person may request that the beneficiary of any DIS or pension be their partner. It is important to update the beneficiaries to ensure it does go to the people you want it to benefit.
Insurance and Assurance Policies
Much like a DIS, some insurance and assurance policies pay a lump sum to named beneficiaries, rather than to policyholder’s estate. You should check with the policy provider as to who payments will be made and make any amendments needed.
Your Childcare and School Arrangements
Notify schools, nurseries and other care providers of any change of contact details. That way you will not miss anything important.