Marriage and Wills

Marriage and Wills

Certain events automatically change your current last will. These events include:

  • getting married
  • getting divorced
  • having or adopting children.

In some states, if you get married after making a last will and do not rewrite it after the wedding, your spouse gets a share of your estate as if you had no will, unless you have a premarital agreement, made a provision for your spouse in the will, or stated specifically in the will that you intended not to mention your prospective spouse.

Example: John made his will leaving everything to his brother. When John married Joan, an heiress with plenty of money, he did not change his will because he still wanted his brother to get his estate. When he died, Joan got his entire estate and his brother got nothing.

The two issues involved are whether the spouse can get a share in spite of the will and if the marriage completely voids the will. If you get married and wish to leave your property to someone other than your spouse, you should consult an attorney.

Divorce and Wills

If you get divorced after you write your last will, your ex-spouse is automatically removed from your last will. However, you should probably not rely on this and should rewrite your last will to reflect your changed family and any new arrangements you want to put into effect. If you don't do this, your ex-spouse may contest the last will and your estate will bear the cost of defending against this challenge.

Children and Wills

Generally, if you have a child after making your last will and you do not rewrite that last will, the child will nonetheless receive a share of your estate: it will be as if the last will had never been written.


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