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Wills and Marriage – What happens when my wedding is delayed by lockdown restrictions?

A Will made in contemplation of marriage… what happens when my wedding is delayed by Lockdown restrictions?

We regularly advise clients who have newly got engaged. A significant life event such as marriage is a good time to evaluate your affairs and often leads to people wanting to either amend their Will or put a new Will in place.

It is not always well known that getting married or entering into a Civil Partnership revokes any Wills previously made. There is however a very sensible exception to this. Section 18 Wills Act 1837 allows you to make a Will in contemplation of marriage. The intention to marry a specific named person must be clearly written into the Will and we will draft your Will to make it clear that you do not wish this Will to be revoked by your upcoming marriage or Civil Partnership.

This exception allows engaged couples to make their new Wills before their marriage and means that there is no need to delay until after the big day.

This year unfortunately we have been contacted by many couples whose ceremonies have sadly been cancelled or delayed due to the Pandemic and the necessary lockdown restrictions. This has led to the question of whether a Will made in contemplation of marriage is still valid even if the marriage has been delayed. Or in other words, is there a set time limit on a Will made in contemplation of marriage? Fortunately, the answer is no. As long as the intention to get married remains then the terms of the Will still apply. It is important that the wording of the Will is correct to comply with the law but careful wording will provide that your Will is still valid even if the ceremony has unfortunately been delayed.

The exception is designed for couples that are engaged or have a serious intention to get married in the short-term future (restrictions and other factors allowing) and should not be used in every relationship where marriage is simply a possibility.

This last year or so has shown us more than ever that we do not know what the future will hold and that it is better to get your affairs organised sooner rather than later. Therefore, we recommend that if you are planning to get married you should not delay putting a Will in place to fit your new circumstances, speak to a solicitor today and make a Will ‘in contemplation of marriage’ safe in the knowledge that your Will shall still apply after your marriage or even if your wedding has to be delayed. Although we sincerely hope that everyone will be able to have their dream wedding soon when it is safe to do so.

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Please note the above is for information purposes only and is intended to be a short summary.  It should not be treated as a comprehensive guide and should not be acted on without qualified legal advice.