It’s a common question that has a simple answer. Do I need to update my will after I get divorced? (The answer is “Yes“). Many times, the client across the table knows the answer. It’s a plain, straight-forward question. They know that they need to update their will after they get divorced. But for some reason, they haven’t updated their will. With all the other paperwork involved in a divorce, this often ends up falling by the wayside.

Some people have even remarried and still haven’t updated their will. When they come to meet with me, we find that their will would still give their estate to their former spouse. Their current spouse, and children with the new spouse, are not too keen on that distribution of the estate.

What Documents Should I Look At?

The most important document to look at is your divorce decree. It may require that you keep your ex-spouse as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. There can be provisions requiring you to do certain things with real estate. You may need to refinance the former marital home. Or you may need to have deeds drafted for other purposes as part of the divorce.

In addition, you’ll want to review any beneficiary designations. The law automatically revokes designations of ex-spouses on life insurance policies. But there may be other assets with designations. It’s best for the client to meet with their financial advisor to review their assets and designations.

But We’re Divorced – What Does My Ex-Spouse Get?

The law revokes your ex-spouse from holding a beneficiary position after you die. However, if you haven’t updated your documents, it may create confusion. An example I saw recently was a former sister-in-law was the next in line under the client’s old will. Of course, my client is no fan of her former sister-in-law. Having her be the likely person to take over was quite a wake-up call for the client. It was more than enough motivation to get the will updated.

Next Steps

If you’ve recently been divorced, or if you’ve been divorced for a while and never reviewed your estate planning documents, call my office to set up a meeting and we can review the best options for you – (877) AMAYERS.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.