Separated but not divorced? Your Will should be a priority
I used to tell family law clients when they were separating that their children and their property settlement were the most important things, and that they didnâ€™t have to worry about getting a divorce unless they wanted to remarry. However, if you are separated and not divorced, one thing you really do need to make a priority is your Will.
If you had a Will prior to your separation, then it probably left everything to your spouse. If you donâ€™t get divorced, then that Will is still valid, and everything will go to your ex-spouse! Even if you have done your property separation.
If you didnâ€™t have a Will prior to your separation, and you still donâ€™t, then you will be whatâ€™s called â€œintestateâ€ (you will die without a valid Will). Under the law of intestacy, if you die within 6 years of your separation, then your ex-spouse will still get a large portion of your estate. This occurs even if you have done your property separation with your ex.
If you have parenting orders with your ex-spouse about who sees the kids when, and you donâ€™t have a Will, then the children will live with your ex-spouse if you die. You need a valid Will to appoint a guardian that will hold up against your ex-spouseâ€™s claim to have them full time. If you donâ€™t appoint guardians, then your ex-spouse may take the children and never let them see your family.
There are quite a few other little reasons to do your Will after youâ€™ve separated, but I have outlined the primary ones. If you have separated from your ex-spouse, it is likely that you donâ€™t want your estate and all your assets to go to them after you die! Accidents happens, so please donâ€™t ignore the issue and just continue on like youâ€™re invincible.
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