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Divorce and your will

Official figures recently disclosed show that the divorce rate for 2016 was the highest since 2009, with 106959 divorces taking place in England and Wales, an increase of 5.8% from the 2015 figures.

“In this difficult time, the divorcing couple will have a lot on their plates, dealing with the divorce paperwork, sorting out their finances, resolving child care issues and coming to terms with the emotional fall-out of a relationship breakdown”, says Adele Hallam, of Kirkham Legal, “but the couple must not forget to amend their will, or if they have not done a will, to prepare a new will, as without this they run the risk of their assets still passing to their estranged spouse, in the event of their untimely death”. The reason for this is that the divorce action will generally take, at best, 6 months to complete and if one party were to die in that period then if they previously had prepared a will leaving everything to their spouse, or had not done a will, then under the provisions of the will or the intestacy rules their estate or a large proportion of it would pass to their spouse, irrespective of the fact of separation, even if divorce proceedings were in progress.

“A will is a relatively straightforward and inexpensive process, so our advice is clear – prepare a will to ensure your estate goes to who you want it to and to appoint the person or people you want to sort it out on your behalf”, adds Adele, “and at the same time consideration should be given to the preparation of a Lasting Power of Attorney, so that you have a person you trust in place to deal with financial matters on your behalf in the event of your incapacity, for whatever reason, as you could no longer rely on your spouse to look after matters for you”.

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