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How Marriage, Divorce and Separation Impact Your Will in Queensland

How Marriage, Divorce and Separation Impact Your Will in Queensland


Your Will is one of your most important estate planning structures.  It helps dictate who receives your estate when you die – but most people aren’t aware of how it can be affected by relationship status.

In Queensland, your Will may change when you marry, divorce, or separate from your partner.  Exactly what those changes might be depends on the type of relationship you have and how your Will is drafted.  

Keep reading to find out how you can maintain the Will you want even if your relationship status changes.

How Marriage Can Void Your Current Will

Your wedding is a time of joy and happiness. There is a lot to organise when you embark on your new life journey. Estate planning considerations are probably the furthest thing from your mind during this time – which is reflected in many of the discussions we have with young couples.

Newlyweds often overlook the fact that, in Queensland, your existing Will becomes automatically revoked when you enter into a marriage (unless the Will has been made in contemplation of marriage to your new spouse).

Will My Spouse Inherit Everything if I Die?

If you fail to update your Will once you are married and subsequently die, your estate will be distributed as if you never had a Will in place. If that happens, the rules of intestacy will apply to your estate. 

This may be concerning if you have children from a previous marriage or any other dependents you wish to provide for. Read our article on the rules of intestacy to understand what happens if you don’t have a valid Will in place. 

 If you make a Will ‘in contemplation of marriage’ to a specific person, this will ensure that, if you do marry the person specified in the future, the provisions of your Will are not affected. 

Does Divorce Invalidate a Will in Queensland?

If you and your spouse divorce, it is vital that you review your estate plan. Unlike marriage, a divorce doesn’t revoke an existing Will except for any provisions concerning your former spouse. 

A divorce automatically revokes any reference to your former spouse in your Will; however, the rest of your Will remains valid.

Unless a contrary intention appears in the Will, a divorce will have the effect of revoking:

  1. any distributions or gifts made in favour of the former spouse under the Will;
  2. any appointment of the former spouse as an executor, trustee, advisory trustee, or guardian under the Will; and
  3. any grant made by the Will of a power of appointment exercisable by the former spouse.

The divorce does not revoke the following:

  1. the appointment of the former spouse as a trustee of property left on trust for the beneficiaries; or
  2. the grant of a power of appointment exercisable by the former spouse only in favour of children born out of that relationship.

Although a divorce revokes any benefit to a former spouse, the effect of divorce on your Will may mean that your estate is distributed in a way you did not intend. 

How Separation Affects Your Will 

If you have separated from your married spouse but have not obtained an order for dissolution or divorce, your Will remains valid. Should you die before you finalise legal matters, your spouse may inherit under your Will or make a provision claim against your estate.

To decide whether you need a new Will, consider whether your current Will remains fit for purpose. If you have named your separated spouse as your executor, they will be able to administer your estate in accordance with the terms of your Will. This includes any distributions you may have provided for them as a beneficiary under the Will.

Separation for de facto couples is similar to separation for married couples, in that separation for de facto couples affects an estate plan in the same way as divorce does. When a de facto relationship ends, the provisions in a Will in favour of the former partner are revoked. 

Given the sometimes-ambiguous nature of the ‘end date’ of de facto relationships, it remains vitally important to update your Will in the event of separation rather than relying on Division 3 of the Succession Act 1981 (Qld) to intervene and revoke any previous provisions you have made for your former spouse. Ignoring the matter also invites arguments among family members regarding the status of your relationship post-death, given the implications on the distribution of your estate.


It is important that you review your Will if there is any change to your relationship status. Similar implications may affect the validity of your Enduring Power of Attorney.

If you are experiencing changes in your relationship, you should obtain legal advice to ensure that your estate planning documents will remain relevant to your specific circumstances. If you would like to discuss your Will, please contact a member of our experienced Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning team at Bell Legal Group at (07) 5597 3366 or law@belllegal.com.au.

The content of this publication is for information only. The content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should obtain advice that is specific to your circumstances before taking any action.