Aug 4

Death After Divorce

Death is a lot like divorce.

When couples are separating or divorcing, the last thing on their minds is updating their Wills. This could prove problematic for both parties under the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA). If you appointed your spouse as an executor, or left them a gift in your will, then the appointment or the gift would be revoked when you and your spouse separate or become divorced.

Once the gift is revoked, the gift is distributed as though your former spouse had died before you did. If you have children under the age of 19, for example, and they are the only ones who stand to inherit under your Will after the gift to your former spouse is revoked, this could leave your former spouse in an awkward situation. Your former spouse ends up caring for your children while someone else controls the funds that your children have inherited.

Another additional wrinkle in WESA is the fact that should you decide to get back together with your former spouse, their appointment as an executor, or any gift left to them in your Will, remains revoked unless the Will is updated to re-confirm the appointment and/or gift.

If you have recently been separated or divorced, or recently reconciled with your former spouse, consider updating your Will as soon as possible, to protect your family from the uncertainty of automatic revocations under WESA.