When A Divorce Means Estate Changes Too

1 April 2022
 Categories: Law, Blog

Estate lawyers may advise those with a plan in place to update it every so often. Even when life doesn't change much from year to year, it's a good idea to speak to your estate planning lawyer to make sure that your plans consider tax law changes and other financial changes. Important life events may also trigger changes to your plan. Divorce, marriage, adoptions and births, and other big events could affect your will, trust, powers of attorney, and more. For more information about how one of those events, divorce, can create a need to make changes, read on.

When Things Get Rocky

Don't wait too long to take action when it comes to estate plans. Couples can have on-again and off-again relationships for months on end before finally deciding to call it quits for good. Talk to your lawyer and find out what you need to do to protect your assets once you separate. It is during the separation that you need to act since you are still legally married until the final decree is handed down. That might be months down the road, and anything could happen in the interim. If your soon-to-be-ex has been designated as a beneficiary of your assets, make changes now to avoid the possibility of them owning most of your estate in the event of your death. With that in mind, check your will, trusts, and deeds, and don't forget those life insurance policies as well.

What to do About the Will or Trust

State law varies in how divorce affects a will if you don't take any action. For example, in some states, a divorce invalidates a will so it must be updated. Some issues to consider when updating a will or trust include:

  • You might want to change your real estate deeds to reflect only you as the owner if you will be gaining the home with the divorce. You can also include your children (if they are adults) using a right of survivorship deed.
  • If you have minor-aged children, be sure you appoint a guardian for them if you believe your ex to be unfit for parenting. Your ex might want to challenge the guardianship so be sure to include your reasons for making such a move in the guardianship papers.
  • If you have made your ex's children beneficiaries of your estate, you might want to reconsider.
  • Change your trustee, executor, or personal representative if you have designated your spouse for those tasks.

This is but a sample of issues that can arise out of a divorce. Speak to an estate lawyer to learn more.