The Impact of Divorce on Estate Planning

How a Divorce Will Affect Your Estate Planning

Last will and testamentIf you’ve already put an estate plan in place, and then go through a divorce, you need to think carefully about the impact of the divorce on the plans you had for the orderly distribution of your estate. You may have language in your will or trust that renders the document null and void in the event of divorce. In any event, you will most likely need to take specific steps to protect your interests.

Revoke and Replace All Wills, Codicils and Trusts

An existing will can be revoked by either tearing it up (if it is the one executed copy). You can also revoke a will by drafting and executing a new one. Though the simple act of drafting a new will may legally invalidate any prior will or codicil (an amendment to a will), it is always best to specifically state in a new will that you revoke all prior wills and codicils.

Update Any Beneficiary Designations

If you don’t want your ex (or your ex’s children) to have a claim on your estate, you need to change all beneficiary designations that name your ex-spouse. By drafting a new will, you will exclude your ex-spouse from access to any property covered by the will, but you will also want to change beneficiary designations on:

  • Retirement accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Bank or investment accounts that have a pay-on-death provision

Revise Any Other Estate Planning Documents

Chances are, if you have a power of attorney or an advance medical directive, you have named your ex-spouse as the person to whom decision-making authority will be granted. Confirm that someone else is willing to act in that capacity, and draft new documents naming them.

Contact Us

Let us put our commitment, experience and dedication to work for you. To arrange a confidential meeting with an experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney, contact our office online or call us at 215-886-1266.

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Montgomery County Bar Association
Pennsylvania Bar Association
International Academy of Collaborative Professionals