When a couple separate there are a number of obvious issues that will need to be resolved as soon as possible such as:
– arrangements for the children
– where each party should live pending an overall agreement regarding financial matters
– who is going to pay the bills pending an overall agreement
It is important to get advice at an early stage regarding these issues.
However, there are also a number of further important considerations that should be made when a couple separate which are often overlooked as follows:
1. The importance of making a new Will. In our experience, it is a mis-conceived perception that it is best to delay making a Will or altering their previous Will until their matrimonial difficulties have been legally resolved, usually by a divorce. In fact, it is very important not to delay making a Will until conclusion of matrimonial proceedings.
In general, if you are separated but not actually divorced, by Decree Absolute, should you die before your spouse, without making a Will, they will inherit the majority of your estate particularly if, as is common, you already have a Will that leaves everything to your spouse.
2. “Severing the joint tenancy” if you own the property jointly with your spouse. This is essential to ensure that your half of the property passes in accordance with the instructions given in your new Will.
3. Checking the contents of any life insurance policy, pension policy and any nomination letters in order to establish whether or not you have named your spouse as a beneficiary under that policy. If you have not completed a nomination form, or if you have named your spouse as a nominated beneficiary, you may wish to complete a new form to request that your spouse does not benefit from your life insurance or your pension in the event of your death. The benefits under these investments are effectively in Trust and, therefore, your Will would have no effect on who the benefits pass to on your death.
It is important to obtain advice from a matrimonial lawyer as soon as possible when separation is contemplated. In addition to the immediate practical arrangements consideration should be given to the possibility of making a new Will, severing the joint tenancy of any property and reviewing insurance, pension policies and nomination letters. We work closely with our Private Client team in advising clients who are contemplating separation, or who have separated to ensure that their position is protected as soon as possible following separation.
If you would like to discuss your situation with us, please do not hesitate to make an appointment with one of our team by contacting us via firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01392 210700.