Second marriage will effectively revoke previous wills

Q&A: Dominic Coyle answers your personal finance questions

Marriage revokes a will made before that point, but divorce does not. Photograph: iStock

Marriage revokes a will made before that point, but divorce does not. Photograph: iStock

 

My partner of three years and I are both in our early 60s. We are widowed and divorced respectively. We each have two adult children and we are both of independent means.

We are now considering getting married. Our current wills specify that our respective children will share our respective estates 50/50. The current threshold of €310,000 for parent-to-child inheritances should just about mean that our children will not incur any tax liability.

We now wonder if in the event that we marry, will our existing wills remain valid or could they be subject to challenge?

Mr G.N., email

The simple answer is yes. There is one exception, I gather, but, in general, marriage does invalidate a previous will and the parties need to draw up new wills to ensure that their previous intentions continue to hold legal force or that they are amended to take account of their new circumstances.

The relevant legislation is section 85 (1) of the 1965 Succession Act.

Ironically, while marriage does revoke wills made before that point, divorce does not. Therefore, a will made while married will continue to have legal force even following a divorce unless you specifically act to draw up a new will.

The exception I mentioned earlier? Apparently if the wills were drawn up with the knowledge and intention that they were to apply following the marriage (or civil partnership). I am told that, to avail of this exception, it would be sensible to have the intention stated expressly in the will although that is not absolutely required under section 85 (2) of the Succession Act.

Anyway, it clearly does not apply in your case as it appears the current wills of both yourself and your partner were drawn up well before you considered getting married to each other.

Send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or by email to dcoyle@irishtimes.com. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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