Estate planning is a task that many in Texas often do not look forward to. One need only consider the fact that (according to Gallup) barely only 44% of American adults actually have a will. The reason why may be due to the fact that estate planning goes far beyond writing a will; it is a process that requires revisiting throughout one’s lifetime.
Revisions to one’s will are typically required following major life events. Divorce certainly qualifies as such. Yet given everything that goes one during divorce proceedings, one’s estate plans may be the furthest thing from their minds. This prompts the question as to whether one’s ex-spouse may still benefit from their estates should they fail to ever update their will.
The effect of divorce on a will
Lawmakers foresee this possibility, and thus legislation exists to account for it. Per Texas‘ Estates Code, any provision in a will bequeathing assets or property to an ex-spouse (or any provision naming an ex-spouse to a specified role in the administration of their estate) is automatically revoked once one’s divorce becomes final. In the eyes of the law, it is as if the ex-spouse preceded one in death.
Estate considerations following a divorce
Yet even with the potential of one’s ex-spouse inheriting their assets not being a concern, one still might want to consider whether it be best to include their ex-spouse in their estate plans in some way. If, for example, one has minor children, then it may be in their best interest to designate the other parent as a trustee over whatever assets one leaves to them. Despite any negative feelings ex-spouses may feel towards each other, one might still be able to trust that the other would be a good steward of their children’s assets until they reach the age of majority.
Divorce is a significant life change and one that can have an impact on your estate plan. Reviewing your plan to ensure it still reflects your wishes is crucial. Failing to do so could ensure that your intended heirs don’t receive the proper inheritance or an ex-partner has power of your medical care if you become incapacitated. While you may want your divorce to be over, don’t overlook this pivotal step.