Many people think that when you divorce any will that existed is no longer valid – that the will is revoked by the divorce. This isn’t the case. Certainly if you remarry or enter a civil partnership following your divorce your will does become redundant. But a divorce – while it has a certain impact upon the terms of an existing will – does not have the effect of revocation.  Below we examine some of the common issues that arise around divorce and wills.

How Does Divorce Affect My Will?

If you have made a will and later divorce or dissolve your civil partnership your will is still valid. However: under The Wills Act

  • If you appointed your ex as a trustee or executor in the will or
  • You left any money or property to your ex in the will

then these clauses in your will take effect as if your ex died on the date of your divorce. In practice this means that any substitutional provisions (back up executors or alternative beneficiaries) will come into play.

However, subject to a number of restrictions, including rules about leaving assets to minors and the provisions of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act, 1975 (‘the I(PFD)A’) you are generally free to leave your estate in whichever way you like. You have what’s known as ‘testamentary freedom’. So you can override the Wills Act rules above by expressly stating in your will that a gift to a spouse is to be respected even if you get divorced in the future.

Is My Will Still Valid After I Separate?

The rules in the Wills Act that we’ve mentioned only apply when a decree absolute has been issued. Separation or the pronouncement of a decree nisi won’t have any effect on the terms of your will. It’s advisable therefore, if you are separated and thinking about divorce, to consider making a new will.

What Happens To My Estate If I Am Divorced But Don’t Have A Will?

Anyone who dies without a valid will is said to have died ‘intestate’. After debts and funeral expenses are paid the remaining estate is distributed according to the rules of intestacy. The first to benefit under these rules is the surviving spouse. However if you are divorced your ex is removed from the list of intestate beneficiaries. Instead your estate will be divided among your children, parents, siblings and other relatives in a clearly defined order.

Can My Ex Challenge My Will?

Challenges to wills are on the rise. This is partly due to house price growth, which can provide an incentive to challenge a will, and to more complex family structures with children from previous marriages seeking a share of a parent’s estate from which they have been excluded. Many cases of contesting a will succeed – the actor Nigel Havers for example, secured a six figure sum from his wife’s estate following a challenge (the case was settled before it reached court). But can an ex spouse challenge your will?

The I(PFD)A permits specific categories of individuals to apply for ‘reasonable financial provision’ from a deceased’s estate. They may have been left out of the will entirely or they may believe they are entitled to more than what they have received under the will or the rues of intestacy.

Included in the class of persons who can make a claim are former spouses or former civil partners. (Although they can’t claim if they have remarried.) Permitting a former spouse to make a claim under the I(PFD)A is in some respects an exception to the rules in the Wills Act that prevent a divorced spouse from benefitting from their ex’s will.

Whether or not your ex’s claim is successful will depend on a number of factors, including their own financial resources, any moral obligations you had toward him or her at the time of your death and the size of your estate.

Give the possibility of a challenge to your estate – by your ex or someone else – it is always important to explain to the solicitor preparing your will your reasons for excluding a person who may have been expected to benefit from your estate. Your solicitor should make detailed notes so that they can be considered by a judge who hears any challenge in the future.

Do I Need To Revise My Will If I Get Married?

Under the Wills Act, your will is automatically revoked if you subsequently marry. If, when you execute your will, you are intending to get married you can make the will conditional on the marriage. However the will must state clearly that it is being made in expectation of marrying or entering a civil partnership with a particular person and that you do not wish the will to be revoked by that marriage.


It’s clear that marriage, divorce and remarriage can all significantly impact the way your assets are distributed upon your death. It’s advisable therefore on these occasions to update an existing will or create a new one that is fully reflective of your wishes.

Got a question? Ask us now…

Kindly complete the form below to send an enquiry. Your message will be sent to one of our solicitors. Discretion is guaranteed.

Your Information

  • Consider including information such as: the name of your spouse (if relevant), the country you live in, the background to your problem.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Over 2000 FREE
consultations and counting…

Our free consultation can help you more clearly understand the legal issues relating your case and what your options are to move forward.

Request your free consultation

Or send us an enquiry

I had a 30-minute consultation with Samantha Jago where she clearly explained all my options and followed up with a detailed email of notes. I would highly recommend if you need help to clarify where you stand and getting options for how you move forward.

Jun 2024   Katherine Davey

I recently had a one hour pro bono consultation with Samantha Jago. I was really blown away by how much she was able to digest in such a short period of time and even more so by the report which I received shortly after.

Apr 2024   S DF

I had applied for a free consultation and I was contacted in a very short timeframe. Thank you so much for the insightful and thorough consultation, Kevin Danagher. You made me feel at ease and you provided clear expectations with the initial info I had provided... I have now a much better understanding on my query.

Feb 2024   Sonia Accardi

We had a very useful first consultation with Amber Matheson today. Amber took the time to understand our (somewhat complicated) set-up, and offered good, understandable advice on next steps. She followed up with a very thorough email clarifying what we had discussed. Highly recommended.

Feb 2024   Lucie

Lovely friendly experience. All questions were answered so that I understood completely.

Dec 2023   Ali Catlin

Very balanced, fair and pragmatic advice. Thoroughly recommend!!

Nov 2023   James Elliott

Henry graciously provided his time for a consultation. I found him to be highly knowledgeable, empathetic and he provided excellent advice which put my mind at ease. Would highly recommend Henry and his firm.

Oct 2023   Allan Ang

Henry Brookman went above and beyond during the free consultation, and even overran the allocated time. He provided invaluable professional advice in a courteous manner. I recommend his firm without reservation.

Sep 2023   Mario Ignatov

I only had my initial free review with Amelia yet I already feel much more strengthened in my legal and financial position. I am currently reflecting on the steps I want to take to negotiate my desired outcome of the financial settlement but, when I am ready to use the services of a lawyer, Amelia is definitely the top on my list.

Sep 2023   Nahid Toubia

I had a zoom consultation with Lauren Moir and she was incredible. Very patient, insightful and reassuring. She also advised me based on my previous conversations with another firm and also clarified various positions I am in. Highly recommend.

Aug 2023   Gary Hawes

I was very impressed with the friendly, helpful and professional service offered by Brookman Solicitors. The generous advice and knowledge offered during the initial free consultation has enabled us to have a much better understanding of our case and plan a way forward.

Jul 2023   Peter Jackson

I had a first consultation with Kevin, who very diligently and professionally provided an exhaustive overview of the divorce process and the best approach for my specific case.

Jul 2023   Giulia Matteo

Great service and excellent advice at the initial consultation. I would certainly recommend and use in the future.

Jul 2023   Tom James

Google Reviews
Ask A Question

Contact Us

If you have questions, contact us now, we can help you.

Enquire Now

Or call us on +44 (0)20 7430 8470