It is surprisingly common that the ex is left something in the Will. Even more startling is that people do not change their will, at all, after a divorce.
Up until the end of 2016, not changing your Will was an option. Divorce had no effect. Not any more! Now if you want your ex to benefit, you have to specify that you have taken the new law into account or the law will treat your ex as if he or she had died before you. This means a new Will or, at least, a change to your existing Will.
That’s advice but why would someone not change their Will after divorce?
Life isn’t black and white. You can’t live with them but does that mean you lose all respect and affection? Not if my experience of advising clients is anything to go by!
I think there are 2 reasons.
The first is pragmatic and practical. This is a person with whom you have shared a life and, quite possibly, children. Particularly, if the children are young, the ex might well be the appropriate person to care for the them and, unless you can afford a trust, leaving something to your ex may be a reasonable way to ensure that your children benefit. By this I mean that, in Wills, it is all about the blood. My experience is that most of the time Wills only mention the family. If you believe that your ex will leave everything to the children, the thought process is that by leaving something to the ex it will eventually go to the kids. Only someone who knows another intimately can know that person, so you cannot say it is wrong.
The second is some lingering affection and respect and wish to ensure that, if you are out of the picture, the ex should not end up in poverty. Just because you cannot live with them does not mean they are bad people. This reason is especially so if there are no children to leave your estate to.
Anyway, if you are in this category, change your Will now!
I am a solicitor in private practice and Managing Director and owner of online websites where you can make Wills, Powers of attorney and even have a divorce. I have appeared on the BBC and STV speaking about legal matters on a number of occasions.
Bruce de Wert