Katie Price (aka Jordan) recently stated on the Loose Women show that if she died now, her ex-husband, Peter Andre, would receive the lion's share of her estate because she has not changed her Will since their divorce. Unfortunately Katie Price is misinformed and her analysis is incorrect. However she is correct in her assertion that she needs to update her Will in light of her divorce and subsequent marriage.
What happens if you do not change your Will after you get divorced?
Once your divorce is finalised then any legacy that you left to your former spouse in your Will fails. The Will treats a divorce as if your former spouse predeceased you. It is worth noting that if you are separated when you pass away, rather than divorced, then the provisions in your Will are not altered and any legacy your spouse was due to receive would remain.
The result of a divorce is that the legacies you left to your former spouse will fail and instead they will form part of your residuary estate. If you have left your entire estate to your spouse then, in the absence of any default provisions, your entire estate will be subject to the intestacy rules.
Therefore in the case of Katie Price her estate would likely pass to the children she has named in her Will, Peter Andre would not receive anything. If Katie Price's children are under the age of 18 when she dies then Peter Andre would likely be a trustee for the legacy to the children. If the divorce is relatively amicable then this may not be an issue, however if the divorce is particularly acrimonious then it could cause some family conflict.
Furthermore, if your divorced spouse is named as your executor then this appointment also fails. If they are your only named executor then the result is that you have not appointed anyone to administer your estate. In this scenario, one of the beneficiaries would need to make an application for a Grant of Letters of Administration to administer your estate. This adds an additional complication and may mean that someone you don’t want to administer your estate ends up doing so.
Can someone make a claim against your estate if they are not included in your Will?
If Katie Price did pass away without changing her Will then it does not mean that her current husband or subsequent children would not receive anything. They could make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 Act. The 1975 Act allows individuals to make a claim on the deceased’s estate if they can show that they were financially maintained by the deceased and that the deceased failed to make reasonable financial provision for them in their Will.
Spouses and minor children of the deceased are the claimants that enjoy the most success under the 1975 Act and therefore Katie Price’s husband and subsequent children would have an incredibly strong claim against her estate.
Katie Price’s high profile comments have inadvertently misinformed people about what impact your divorce has on your Will. What is clear is that you should look to update your Will after you go through any major change in your personal circumstances. This ensures that your estate is dealt with in accordance with your latest wishes. However, the 1975 Act means that individuals are in a position to make a claim against your estate if they have not been reasonably provided for. It is a useful piece of legislation but requires expert assistance in order to utilise it effectively.
If you are in a situation where you think you need to change your Will then please contact Lorna Spear of the Private Client Advisory Team on 01603 756491.
Alternatively if you are an individual who thinks they may have a claim against a loved one's estate then please call Bernadette Baker of the Contentious Trusts and Probate Team on 01603 756406.