Divorce, or separation might be unfortunate.
For good or for ill, marriage may end before death us do part. So, how does your separation and impending divorce affect your will?
The Effect of Separation on Your Will
My favourite film is The Usual Suspects. Dr Strangelove runs it a close second. We thus alight on the story of Peter Sellers.
He had 2 children, Michael and Sarah by his first wife. His second wife bore him Victoria. He had no other children. He married his fourth wife in 1977.
The marriage hadn’t worked, they were in the process of getting divorced. They’d reached a financial agreement. She would have received £327,000 and their house in Los Angeles. Alas, he died before the divorce was finalised. In the will he left each of his 3 children a bequest of £750. The rest of the estate, £4.5m in 1980 [about £30m in 2017] went to her. To quote Spike Milligan, ‘She copped the lot’. Sellers’s assets outside the UK were disposed of in other wills.
Obviously, the relationship between the actor on the one hand and his children on the other was poor. His son Michael claims the actor had written him a letter the last lines of which were: ‘I no longer wish to be thought of as your father. The time has come for you to continue on your own way. My final suggestion is you change your surname.’
Separation, Divorce? Have All Of It
I don’t imagine however Peter said to himself, ‘this woman, the soon to be the 4th ex-Mrs Sellers, this lady whom I’m planning to give as small a divorce settlement as I could get away with, really, I’d like her to get all of my estate, all four and a half million pounds of it’. He died in July 1980.
To shorten a long story, Mrs Sellers, copped the lot. Everything. Including the kitchen sinks. Divorce proceedings aside, a couple are still married till the decree absolute is granted. The actor’s will was in her favour. She married and shortly afterwards divorced David Frost. At age 28, now a wealthy woman thanks to her inheritance from Peter, she married her third husband. However, she died in 1994, just shy of her fortieth birthday. The sole beneficiary in her will was… her daughter, fathered long after Peter’s death.
So, do you imagine the thespian wanted to leave his wealth to a soon to be divorced wife, and down the line to her children who are yet unborn?
Change Your Will as Needs Be
The moral of story… as your circumstances change, you change your will.
I’m an expert at will writing. You and I would produce a will perfectly suited to your circumstances. The state of your marriage, the length of your separation or how far down the divorce process you’ve gone would guide us. I’ll write the perfect will for you now. Two further things: first we’ll build flexibility and redundancy into your will and secondly, if and when you need to change your will, I’ll update your will free of charge.