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Old 19-05-24, 15:10
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Default Revoked wills following marriage

Does anyone know what the rules were before 1837?

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Under section 18 of the Wills Act 1837, if a person already has a Will in place before they legally marry, the ‘pre-marriage Will’ is automatically revoked once the marriage takes place.
I am looking at a will proved in 1741, and written in either 1724 or 1734 (ink blob over the year!). The man concerned was suppose to have been married in 1739, but I can't find any record of it. I'm wondering if the marriage was a figment of the imagination of his so-called widow?
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Old 19-05-24, 15:28
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Merry, I asked my Perplexity search and was told (click on the link):

In British law, under section 18 of the Wills Act 1837, if a person already has a Will in place before they legally marry, the ‘pre-marriage Will’ is automatically revoked once the marriage takes place; but what were the rules were before 1837?

It shows you at the top, just after the question posed, what sources it used. You can also see what bits came from which source by hovering over the footnotes.
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Old 19-05-24, 17:29
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Thanks Janet, Pity about this bit....

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Additionally, the rules did not apply to wills made by soldiers on active duty
This man was in the army and died whilst on active service, so I'm still not sure if that means he could have been recently married when he died, but still have his old will pass through the court without a problem?
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Old 19-05-24, 21:56
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If you remember………how could anyone forget….Elizabeth Ariel’s will was overturned a couple of years after her death in 1837. The will was made after her marriage to Myles Ariel and she used her husband’s solicitor, so it should have been legally written.
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Old 20-05-24, 06:58
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One of my cousin's ancestors died in sordid circumstances in the 1820s. He left a widow and children. A much earlier scribbled note was found and what few possessions of value were left went back to the family.
I've often wondered if the widow even knew of this.
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Old 20-05-24, 07:20
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lol Libby - Yes I remember Elizabeth Ariel's will, but I don't really know what the grounds for overturning it were!

Phoenix, I have a curious case where a man died and about 20 years later his widow found his will in his desk drawer, but it hadn't been witnessed properly, so there was lots of angst over whether it was legal or not. Eventually the document was accepted and money and belongings the wife had been using had to be passed elsewhere, so it did her no favours at all. However, no one seemed to even care that this document was dated after the burial of her husband, but in the legal proceedings his date of death was given as after the date on the will, but bore no resemblance to the date of his burial from the PRs. I'm sure the burial was him and not someone else of the same name and there's no burial to match the date given in court. All very unsatisfactory!

In the case I was looking at yesterday the wife should have been entitled to a fortune, so surely she would have come forward if she was legally married to her husband? It certainly would have been worth her while! Makes me think there was no marriage.
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Old 20-05-24, 17:04
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Were the women literate? I do wonder how often people were defrauded, simply because they did not know how to fight for themselves.
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Old 20-05-24, 17:46
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Where I used to live, there was a big scandal. An elderly woman took an even more elderly woman to court over a will, which Woman B must have destroyed or hidden.Woman A discovered that her long dead mother had been cheated when her husband died, by his employers, a married couple who lodged with them. They told the new widow that they owned the house and that the widow would have to pay them rent! The widow seems to have been naive and paid them rent for 25 years, her unmarried daughter taking over on her mother's death. The fraud only came to light when the council issued a compulsory purchase order on the property.

I've been an executor four times now. In two of those cases it would have been very easy to cheat a widow. I expect that in some cases, the cost of pursuing a will would be enough to put people off.

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Old 20-05-24, 21:48
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Most people seem absolutely terrified at the idea of proving a will. I've done it three times now. There were other named executors, but they took a step back.

I also had power of attorney for my aunt. This involved having a debit card. On a single occasion I had mislaid my personal debit card and had to use hers. I put the money straight back, but it would have been incredibly easy to have stolen from her without any repercussions.
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