How Divorce Affects Your Estate Plan

February 20, 2021

Divorce is never easy. It affects all aspects of a couple’s lives – their living situation, financial situation, emotional situation, familial situation, and their work. It even affects their Estate Plan, which many people do not realize. Updating your Estate Plan is unlikely to be the first thing that comes to mind when you finish going through a divorce – but maybe it should be.

Making an Estate Plan is essential to protecting yourself and your family. It is the only legal way to dictate what happens to your belongings (your estate) and your money (your assets) after you die. More than just that, you can also choose who distributes everything included (your executor – as in, they execute your Will, not to be confused with an executioner, who we hope you will not have.) An Estate Plan can also include Trusts that you contribute to throughout your lifetime to give to another person or charity when you pass away. Most importantly to parents, an Estate Plan allows you to choose a guardian who will raise your children if you die before they are of legal age.

If you die without making an Estate Plan, your estate goes into Probate Court, where the state you lived in decides what happens to your belongings and assets. Not only is this time-consuming and cumbersome, it also involves lawyers and can be highly expensive. In this way, creating an Estate Plan not only ensures your wishes will be granted, but saves your family time, money, and emotional energy.

If you have already created an Estate Plan, then you probably already know this. What you might not know is that you need to manually update your Estate Plan after getting a divorce. It may seem like common sense to you that your divorced spouse should no longer be entitled to your estate or assets, but if they are included in your Estate Plan, they are legally getting those things. If they are the first listed guardian of your children, they will continue to hold that role. If they are the executor of your estate, then they will be the person dividing up your belongings after you are gone.

For most divorcees, this sounds like a nightmare. Some even write their spouses out of their Wills at the beginning of the divorce process, which is a fine practice. Some want their ex-spouse to still maintain some roles in their Estate Plan – such as guardian – but want to remove their ex-spouse from other positions, such as inheriting their remaining assets. Also, if you move in the wake of a divorce, your Estate Plan will need to be updated to reflect the state you are currently living in. Estate Plans are always tailored to your specific state.

If you have gotten a divorce, the time to update your Estate Plan is right now! No one else will do it for you, and you don’t want to put it on the back burner. For all your Estate Planning needs, contact Schlegel Livingston, LLC today. We will help you through all of life’s most important moments!