How can Marriage Affect Wills and Estate Planning?

Wills and Estate Planning Affected by Marriage

When you make the decision to say ‘I do’, wondering how it may affect your will and your estate in the future probably isn’t at the forefront of your mind. However, marriage can have a huge impact on your will, regardless of the duration or nature of the union.

When does marriage affect your will?

Marriage immediately affects your will, and even after a marriage breaks down it can still impact on the operation of your will. It is therefore important to be aware of just how the legal union of marriage will affect your will before you walk down the aisle.

How does marriage affect your will?

The impact of marriage on a will is such that it is no longer valid when the will maker (testator) marries. This is outlined in the Succession Act 2006. A testator should update their will as soon as possible after they are married. This will ensure they have a valid will and their wishes for the distribution of their estate are upheld.

The Succession Act 2006 also outlines rules of distribution and the order in which eligible relatives will inherit an estate, as well as their share if there is no will or an invalid will. A spouse, along with any children are at the top of the priority list.

Additionally, even if there is a valid will, a spouse is eligible to make a family provision claim in court. The basis of such a claim will lie in whether they have been adequately provided for in your will.

It is important to note that even ex-spouses are eligible to make a family provision claim. There have been cases where ex-spouses, even after many years of separation and a divorce settlement, have made a family provision claim on a deceased’s estate. Separation and divorce do not change the legal ramifications of marriage.

Are there any exceptions?

A will can be drafted in a certain way to account for a potential future marriage and safeguard the will and your estate planning. However, a family provision claim can still be made if the spouse or former spouse believe they have not been adequately provided for.

What can you do?

Marriage will have a dramatic impact upon your will and estate planning. It is important to remember that just as a will is a legal document, marriage is a legal union. Not only does marriage revoke your current will, but the person you marry will become an eligible person to make a claim on your estate, regardless of separation or divorce.

While no one can predict the future, working with an experienced lawyer is the best way to ensure your final wishes are upheld.  

When it comes to your will and estate planning, you can’t afford to be late. Speak with a lawyer at Taylor & Scott today on 1800 600 664 or email us at

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