Revocation of Will by marriage or civil partnership

The following Wills & Probate practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Revocation of Will by marriage or civil partnership
  • Void and voidable marriages
  • Exceptions to the general rule
  • Will made before 1 January 1983—in contemplation of marriage
  • Will made on or after 1 January 1983—in expectation of marriage
  • Will made before 1 January 1983—Will made in exercise of power of appointment
  • Will made on or after 1 January 1983—Will made in exercise of power of appointment
  • Conversion of civil partnership to same sex marriage
  • Civil partnerships
  • The effect of dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership
  • More...

Revocation of Will by marriage or civil partnership

The general rule is that marriage automatically revokes any Will made by either party before the marriage (this is known as an involuntary revocation). The rule is enacted in both:

  1. the original section 18 of Wills Act 1837 (WA 1837), which provided that 'Every Will made by a man or woman shall be revoked by his or her marriage…'—this applies to Wills made before 1 January 1983

  2. the current WA 1837, s 18 (as substituted by section 18(1) of the Administration of Justice Act 1982 (AJA 1982)) which provides that 'a Will shall be revoked by the testator's marriage'—this applies to Wills made on or after 1 January 1983

For guidance on voluntary revocation of a Will, see Practice Note: Revocation of Wills.

Void and voidable marriages

A void marriage is treated as never having taken place and so it does not revoke a Will made by either party. Lord Greene MR said in De Reneville:

'A void marriage is one that will be regarded by every court in any case in which the existence of the marriage is in issue as never having taken place and can be so treated by both parties to it without the necessity of any decree annulling it; a voidable marriage is one that will be regarded by every court as a valid subsisting marriage

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