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Divorce – does it cancel my will?

Unlike marriage, a divorce does not cancel an existing will. An existing will remains valid except that any gift to your former husband or wife takes effect as if he or she had died on the date of the decree absolute. The usual effect of this is that the gift will fall into the residue for the benefit of the residuary beneficiaries. If the former spouse had been left everything then the practical effect of this is that you will be intestate as far as the residue is concerned. If you had appointed your ex as an executor, the will is still valid but takes effect as if he or she had died on the date of the decree absolute. For these reasons it is obvious that, although divorce does not cancel a will, it can seriously mess it up so the advice has to be: get expert advice on probate and make a new will as soon as you know that your marriage is on the rocks.

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