Marriage or civil partnership revocation of Wills
Marriage or civil partnership revocation of Wills

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

  • Marriage or civil partnership revocation of Wills
  • Statutory provisions
  • Exceptions to the general rule
  • Civil partnerships
  • Same sex marriages

Statutory provisions

The general rule

The general rule is that marriage automatically revokes any Will made by either party before the marriage. The rule is enacted in both:

  1. the original section 18 of the 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 the 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)

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 Renville:

'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 until a decree annulling it has been pronounced by a court of

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