It goes without saying that getting married is a life-changing event, and despite a couple's best efforts leading up to the big day, there will inevitably be some key things that they will forget to think about when contemplating the marriage.

The typical wedding "to do" list will include reserving a venue; booking a celebrant; ordering and sending the wedding invitations; and (importantly!) obtaining the marriage schedule. Given the mammoth task of planning for the impending nuptials, it is understandable that the couple may overlook significant matters, including discussing how they wish their respective estates to be divided upon their deaths. Who wants to think about death when planning for one of the happiest days of your life?

Some things in life are inevitable however, so before embarking upon this new chapter of marital bliss, it is vitally important considering adding another (crucial) bullet point alongside 'pick up the rings': 'make our wills'.

Your circumstances are about to change significantly so, if you have already been married or are about to enter a new or subsequent marriage, then it is important to think about the terms of your will and how you wish for your estate to be divided after your death and add the below to your wedding 'to-do' list.

1. Wedding 'to-do' list addition: make a will

Having a will provides you with greater flexibility and allows you to choose who will receive your assets following your death. Without a will, your estate would be divided in accordance with a hierarchy as set out in law. This may not be how you intended your belongings to be distributed and could benefit individuals you did not want to inherit from you.

i. Cohabitant's rights

Should something happen to you before you get married and you do not have a will in place, then your partner or fiancé(e) does not have automatic rights to your estate under the rules of intestacy. Your estate will pass to other relatives – including any joint owned property – unless there is a survivorship provision. In some circumstances, a cohabitant can make a claim to the estate, but it is limited and success is not guaranteed (you can read more on this here). It is, therefore, extremely important to have a will in place if you wish your partner or fiancé(e) to receive some or all your estate before the marriage takes place.

ii. blended families

Similarly, if you decide to remarry and have children from a previous relationship, then you may wish to consider making a will to ensure that their inheritance is protected whilst allowing your spouse to use the assets during their lifetime. One way of doing this is by setting up a trust in your will which will pass ownership of the assets into trust upon your death but include a direction that your spouse may continue to live in your property for as long as they should choose to do so, with the assets being distributed among the ultimate beneficiaries (i.e. children) upon the spouse's death or when the trust otherwise comes to an end.

2. Wedding "to-do" list addition: review your will

Even if you already have a will in place, it is important to consider reviewing your will as a priority. Unlike the position in England and Wales, marriage does not invalidate a will in Scotland. It is, therefore, crucial to consider updating your old will if you wish to include your new spouse or partner. If not, it may be the case that your former spouse or partner could inherit if that is what your prior will stipulates (unless you are divorced, in which case your former spouse is treated as though they had died first and will be excluded from benefiting from your estate).

Many people wish to get married as it offers a degree of security and stability in their personal and family life. However, before you say "I do", it is also worth considering as a couple having even a simple will put in place or updating your old wills to reflect your current circumstances and to protect your loved ones' financial future.

Making a will in Scotland is very easy to do using Wills by Brodies. Taking you step by step through the process, Wills by Brodies lets you start to write a Scottish will online with costs starting at £180.


Kirstin Templeton

Senior Solicitor