I’m thinking about marrying, should I do my will now or wait?
There is no time like the present. You do not need to wait until after you are married to prepare a will. Making a will and keeping it updated is important for everyone, no matter what stage of life you are at.
But doesn’t marriage cancel wills?
Yes. But as with lots of law, conditions apply!
Your will can be made in anticipation or in contemplation of your marriage. This means a paragraph can be inserted in your will saying, in effect, that you intend to marry your partner and that you wish for your will to remain valid and therefore effective regardless of whether the marriage goes ahead or not.
That means your will would be valid from the time it is signed and witnessed and would remain valid before and after your marriage, whenever it may occur. Your will would not be dependent on that marriage going ahead.
What if I want my will to change when I’m married?
If you want your will to change when you marry, then you might not wish to include the paragraph in your will that would prevent it from being cancelled if you married (an “in contemplation of marriage clause”).
You must keep in mind, however, that if you died without an in contemplation of marriage clause relating to that specific person in your will, and had not prepared a new will before your death, then you would have died without a valid will. This means the laws of intestacy (i.e. the laws that apply when you have no valid will) would then apply. Legislation would specify who would be your legal representative and who your assets would pass to.
What if my name or address changes after marriage?
It does not matter that your name or address might change. You do not necessarily need to update your will to reflect this (although it is not a bad idea!), as long as it can be determined that you are the same person as the person named in your will upon your death.
This can be proven with a marriage certificate.
A change of address can be proved simply by an affidavit saying you were formerly of a different address.
Should my partner or spouse make a will at the same time?
Usually, couples or spouses will make wills at the same time. This is because they often wish to benefit similar people, for example give all of their assets to each other and then provide for children and grandchildren.
Because of this, couples’ or spouses’ wills are often called “mirror” wills; they reflect the other.
If your partner or spouse has children from a previous relationship, they may wish to benefit them in their Will. We can discuss the best ways for this to occur, as well as the potential risks, and assist you both with your estate planning wishes.
Should my partner or spouse and I make just one will together or have one each?
Each person should have his or her own individual will. Your will is a statement of your directions and wishes, and no one else’s. It is your evidence of your intentions after death.
Wills are also filed with and kept by the Probate Registry of the Supreme Court if a grant of probate is required after a person’s death. Therefore, each person should have his or her own document.
Probate is required depending on the type, value and ownership of a person’s assets. It is the formal proving of the will and is often used to enable your legal representative or executor to call in your assets and administer your estate.
I did a will before I was married. Is it still valid?
No, unless your will was specified to be made in contemplation of your marriage to that person and you have not otherwise revoked (cancelled) it.
Marriage is an important time to prepare and review your will and estate plan.
I own all of my assets jointly with my partner or spouse. Do I still need a will?
Jointly owned assets automatically pass to the surviving joint owner. This means if one owner dies, the survivor automatically receives the whole of that asset, regardless of what the will says.
You both still need wills as it is unlikely you know who of you may pass away first or last, or whether your might in fact pass away at the same time. You therefore both need wills to cover these circumstances.
It is also important for each of you to have named an executor who can represent you and act on your behalf when you have died.