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Murray Beith Murray is a leading Scottish private client law firm.

For over 170 years we have specialised in meeting the legal, financial and administrative needs of individuals and families, family trusts, charities and private companies.

Call us today on 0131 225 1200
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Updating your Will and estate plan after divorce

adam swayneGoing through a divorce is never easy and can cause much upheaval to your life and future plans. After you have reached a divorce settlement, you may need to reconsider a number of estate planning matters. Most people include their spouse in their Will and give them Power of Attorney. The law does make some provisions for divorce to avoid unwanted scenarios. However, reviewing your Will and ancillary matters is the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out. In this article, we look at the key things that you should do after divorce.   

Should I amend my existing Will or make a new one after divorce? 

In short, yes. After divorce, it is likely that your Will no longer reflects who you wish to inherit from your estate, who you would like to act as your executor, or even which assets form part of your estate.

During the divorce process, you may have had to thoroughly review your assets to come to a divorce settlement, which means that you are in a good position to review and update your Will. It is likely that the best course of action is simply to write a new Will reflecting your current position, rather than to attempt to amend an existing Will. A specialist Wills solicitor will be able to advise you. 

Is a Will still valid after divorce? Can my former spouse inherit from my estate? 

The Succession (Scotland) Act 2016 modernised Scots law in this area, which means that divorce now has an automatic effect on your Will. The law now presumes that people do not wish for their ex-spouse or civil partner to benefit from their estate or to act as their executor. As a result, if you have left assets to your ex-spouse in your Will or appointed them as an executor, they Will be treated in law as if they had predeceased you. This means they will not inherit or have the authority to act as your executor. However, this treatment does not apply to provisions made for guardianship of children. 

If you wish for your ex-spouse to inherit from your estate or to act as your executor, this is of course permitted, but must be stated explicitly in your Will. 

Updating your Power of Attorney 

It is important to update your Power of Attorney too. If you had chosen your spouse to act as your attorney then, on divorce, their power to act on your behalf comes to an end unless the document provides otherwise. This may mean that you are left without a Power of Attorney in place. 

Specialist Wills Solicitors, Edinburgh

Adam Swayne is a senior solicitor within our Asset Protection Group and specialises in estate planning and Wills.

By putting in place a Will, you ensure that you control who will administer your estate and who will benefit from your estate, guaranteeing that your estate is distributed in line with your wishes and avoiding the risk of disputes, unnecessary stress, and increased administration costs.

If this article has raised any questions or you would like to discuss any issues covered here, then please complete our contact form, or call us on 0131 225 1200 to speak to one of our specialist estate planning lawyers.

Murray Beith Murray was established in 1849 as advisors for generations of clients, committed to our values of integrity, expertise and trust. This aim and these values continue to this day, as does our commitment to be here when you need us.

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