Modifying a will after a divorce

On Behalf of | May 17, 2018 | Divorce & Legal Separation, Estate Planning |

Getting divorced is the last thing you ever thought you would be doing. But, unfortunately, that is your new reality. You have overcome many challenges that come along with being divorced and you find yourself on the other side. Now, you have an abundance of new questions that need to be answered. What happens after my divorce?

There are a number of documents that need to be changed after your divorce, including documents where you named your former spouse as a beneficiary. These include:

  • Your last will and testament and estate plan
  • Your life insurance policies
  • Annuities
  • Pensions
  • Any other types of accounts such as mutual funds, checking, savings, CDs, etc.
  • Powers of attorney

Then, you must decide if you wish to change them. If you do, you can change your life insurance policy by changing the name of the beneficiary on the policy and removing your former spouse. You can also do the same if your spouse has power of attorney over your financial, legal, business or medical care. Your former spouse can be removed from the policy if your divorce decree allows it. You can also remove the name from joint accounts, annuities, and pensions.

How do you change a will after a divorce?

Changing a will is a lot more challenging. Unfortunately, you cannot just remove your exes’ name. The laws vary by state. In some states, any gifts that you leave your former spouse are canceled. Other states do not. You must state in your will what you would like to leave your former spouse or specify how the gifts should be spread. In California, once you are divorced, your spouse is automatically terminated from the policy. The easiest way to get your freedom is just to create a new will. You will also need to revoke the former will. This is done by making a statement that you revoke all wills and codicil (an amendment). Another good idea is simply destroying the previous will after you have made the new one, so it will not be challenged.

Going on after a divorce can be challenging. But there may be a resolution if you know your options.