‘In Contemplation of Marriage’


Section 18 of the Wills Act 1987 (as substituted by s18(1) of the Administration of Justice Act 1982) states that the marriage or civil partnership of a Testator automatically revokes any will that was made before that marriage. The ‘in contemplation of marriage’ clause is an exception to this rule, and means that if a Testator expects to be married to a certain person at the time the will is executed) then that will shall not be revoked when the Testator does eventually marry.

This exception will be effective provided that two conditions are met. The first condition is that the testator must have been expecting to be married or to form a civil partnership with a particular person at the time that the will is executed. It is not enough for the testator to simply state that he or she expects to marry in general.  This was expressed in the case of In Re Coleman (deceased) [1975] 1 All ER 675. In this case the testator had made certain bequests ‘unto my fiancée Mrs Muriel Jeffrey’ whom he later married. The court held that the use of the word ‘fiancé’ or ‘fiancée’ would normally express a sufficient contemplation of marriage to that person.

The second condition is that it must appear from the will that the Testator intended that the will should not be revoked by the marriage or formation of a civil partnership. It is therefore preferable for these wishes be included in writing within the will. For example, a suitable clause to be written into the will would be: “At the time of making this will, I expect to be married to (insert name) and intend that this my will shall not be revoked by my marriage to the said (insert name)”. If marriage or civil partnership takes place to any person other than the person stated in the will, then that will shall be revoked.

The clause should really only be considered temporary as there is always a risk that a relationship may break down and a Testators wishes will therefore change. After marriage or civil partnership has taken place it is often desirable (but not essential) to redraft a will, in order to reflect a couples new status.


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  • Margaret Kilvington

    25th September 2018 at 12:18 pm

    Can you please explain this paragraph as the marriage has neve taken place but are still living together as partners . I make this will in expectation of my marriage to (the person) of (address where we live) aforesaid and I intend that this Will is not revoked by the marriage made by my partner . does the will still stand as we are likely never to marry


  • Gerald

    4th March 2020 at 10:33 pm

    Can you explain why for contemplation of marriage cannot put a general name instead of. Specific personal fiancé name?


    • Siobhan Smith

      6th March 2020 at 10:27 am

      Hi Gerald

      The clause needs to name the specific person that the testator is intending to marry at the time they wrote the will. A general clause stating that they intend to marry but not specifying who would fail because section 18(3) of the Wills Act 1837, where this law originates, states the following (emphasis mine):

      “Where it appears from a will that at the time it was made the testator was expecting to be married to a particular person and that he intended that the will should not be revoked by the marriage, the will shall not be revoked by his marriage to that person.”

      I hope this helps!


  • Juliet Hunte

    24th November 2020 at 7:07 pm

    With rge statement:
    The second condition is that it must appear from the will that the Testator intended that the will should not be revoked by the marriage or formation of a civil partnership. It is therefore preferable for these wishes be included in writing within the will.
    If it’s not written in the will, can ‘in contemplation of marriage’ still apply?


    • Sam Smith

      9th April 2021 at 3:34 pm

      Hi Juliet,

      Thank you for your message and apologies for the delay in our response.

      Yes the contemplation of marriage clause must be included in the Will. Without this clause present in the Will, the Will will be revoked upon marriage.


  • Sophie

    2nd October 2021 at 5:14 pm


    If a will states that it is conditional upon the deceased’s intended marriage to xxxx being solemnised within x years and that the will shall not be revoked by reason of the solemnisation of the marriage, what is the position of the fiancee if the deceased passes before they get married but they were still living together as man and wife?


    • Siobhan Smith

      4th October 2021 at 11:06 am

      Hi Sophie, It’s not possible to comment on the interpretation of a clause without seeing it in full I’m afraid. If you send a copy of the will to [email protected] our technical team would be happy to take a look and advise.


  • Abasikponke Udo

    9th July 2023 at 3:03 pm

    What happens if the will was made in contemplation of a marriage that later didn’t work out, that is, the broke up before getting to to the level of marrying each other. And assuming the man later died leaving no issue, brother or parent, would it suffice to use that in “contemplation of marriage will” which presumably bequeathed all the deceased property to the woman but was made in contemplation of a marriage that never happened…?


    • Siobhan Rattigan-Smith

      10th July 2023 at 9:23 am

      Good question – if the contemplation of marriage clause didn’t state that the will was entirely conditional upon the marriage taking effect then the will would remain valid despite the wedding never happening.


  • Lucy W

    14th August 2023 at 6:40 pm

    If someone made a will a month before they got married and mentioned in the will that they intended to marry and the name of their intended but did not mention that the marriage would NOT revoke the will and did not use the wording “in contemplation or anticipation of marriage” anywhere in the will, does this mean that the will should be revoked?


    • Manisha Chauhan

      11th September 2023 at 10:44 am

      Hi Lucy, if there is no mention of the Will staying in force after the marriage then I would advise they have their Wills reviewed as these may have been revoked on marriage.


  • Naomi Heath

    27th September 2023 at 5:04 pm

    Hi, is there a specific time period for the intention of marriage. I.e if 15 years pass before the named person marries does the clause about not revoking the will on intended marriage to xxx still stand after 15 years?


    • Manisha Chauhan

      12th December 2023 at 11:42 am

      Hi Naomi, there doesn’t need to be a specific date for the marriage to take place, but it must take place within a reasonable time. There’s no actual case law on what is considered ‘reasonable’ however aside from a case where a marriage taking place 25 years later was deemed to not be a reasonable time frame.


  • Denise toohill

    3rd October 2023 at 6:45 am

    What happens , my husband made a will 1 month before we got married , byes now passed , and nothing in will that we were getting married the next month . Isn’t that they solicitors fault , he knew bit never wrote in accordingly


    • Manisha Chauhan

      12th December 2023 at 11:40 am

      Hi Denise, if your previous Wills did not include a contemplation of marriage clause then on marriage, your Wills are deemed as revoked. We would therefore advise you contact one of our members who will be able to assist you further


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