You Need To Update Your Estate Plan After a Divorce

Some things in life just seem like they should
happen automatically. When you’re done watching an episode on Netflix, you expect the next one to play automatically. That makes sense. Similarly, when you get a divorce, you would think that the Estate Plan you made during your marriage becomes invalid. It makes sense that you probably wouldn’t want to leave everything you own to someone who you just divorced.

Here’s the truth: it doesn’t happen automatically.

Let’s recap: Estate Planning is the process of working with an attorney to create a legally-binding plan for what will happen to your belongings and property after you pass away. If you die without an Estate Plan, those decisions aren’t made by your friends and family. Instead, the state you lived in decides what happens to everything you leave behind in a process called probate court.

The most common forms of Estate Planning are Wills and Trusts. Many families, especially families with young children, create Estate Plans to make sure everyone else in their family is protected from any unexpected issues. In your Estate Plan, you can elect a guardian of your choice who would raise your children should anything happen to you before they were adults. This means that many married couples have made Estate Plans that need to be altered when you get divorced.

When you get a divorce, nothing happens to your Estate Plan automatically. It stays exactly how it was before. It is up to you, then, if you would like to keep it the same way: often leaving everything to your (now ex) spouse. Some couples still like to. Most prefer to remove their ex from their Estate Plan entirely.

In addition to who receives your property, you may want to update who handles your estate and who could raise your children. The executor is the person who handles dividing everything according to your Estate Plan wishes after you are gone. People often elect their spouse to this position as well. Your elected guardian for your children could also change after the divorce.

If you get remarried, you will want to update your Estate Plan then. Your Estate Plan is a reflection of your personal wishes, and those change alongside your day-to-day life. If you have more children, you will want to update your Estate Plan to include them. If you have moved states – which people often do after a divorce – you will want to update your Estate Plan, since the rules are different for each state.

If you have recently gotten a divorce, it is important to update your Estate Plan as soon as possible to reflect your new life. It is worth noting that the divorce must be finalized in order to update the Estate Plan. It does not happen automatically. For help with all of your Estate Planning needs, contact Zamora, Hillman & Villavicencio today! We are here to help you navigate uncharted waters.

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Zamora, Hillman & Villavicencio

Our firm deals with legal matters involving your loved ones, and our familial operation is prepared to give you caring and effective counsel during what might be a difficult or emotional time.

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