In this article, we will explore the topic of wills – in particular, whether a Will should be updated upon marriage or divorce.
A testator is someone who makes a Will. In doing so, he or she will have a specific intent in mind. Certain events may unfold after the drafting and execution of the Will, which may lead to the testator being unwilling to be bound by the previous Will.
What happens if I made a Will before marriage?
Section 13(1) of the Wills Act provides that “every will made by a man or woman shall be revoked by his or her marriage…”. Thus, marriage invalidates a Will.
There is a statutory exception provided for in Section 13(2) of the Wills Act which states that the Will may be valid if the testator has the specific intention for it to apply in view of the intended marriage.
As such, unless you have stated clearly in your Will for the same to apply to your current marriage, we would recommend that you take steps to draft another Will which accurately reflects your intention.
Read more: Requirements for a Will
What about divorce?
If marriage leads to the automatic revocation of a will, would a divorce then mean that a Will made during the marriage will similarly be automatically revoked? This seems logical, given that both marriage and divorce are equally life-changing.
After all, a person’s intentions during the marriage and after would invariably differ as much as their intention before the marriage as opposed to during the marriage.
Despite this being a sensible train of thought, it is actually not the case that a divorce will invalidate the pre-existing Will.
Alarmingly, this means that if a person has a Will which bequeaths part of his or her estate to their spouse, it would still be effective even after getting divorced.
This means that upon getting divorced, a person should make a new Will.
How do I go about revoking my Will?
There are a variety of ways one can go about revoking their Will. Section 15(d) of the Wills Act stipulates that a Will can be revoked by burning, tearing, or destroying it.
However, other than simply revoking your Will, we strongly recommend that you make a fresh Will as well.