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Should someone update their estate plan after a divorce?

On Behalf of | May 5, 2022 | Estate Planning |

Divorce can be complex and stressful, but nearly half of marriages end in divorce. There are many thoughts on either spouse’s mind in Waldorf, Maryland. After the final papers of a divorce, people don’t usually think about their estate plan. A person should never forget about updating their estate plan after a divorce.

Failing to update an estate plan

Failing to update estate planning after a divorce can make things messy. An example is a spouse marrying someone with a child from another marriage. The stepparent treats the child like their own and makes them a beneficiary of their estate plan. After the couple’s divorce, they didn’t update the estate plan to include the divorce. If the man dies before changing his estate plan, the courts can only look at the contracts. The ex-spouse may acknowledge she isn’t a beneficiary anymore, but her daughter is on paper. The stepchild could sue to get the settlement of the father-in-law’s estate.

Legal precedents for exes and bequests

Many states automatically revoke bequests and nominations relating to the surviving spouse. Non-probate transfers, such as revocable living trusts or IRAs, pay upon death, but divorce voids them. Pensions and 401(k)s automatically revoke contracts after divorce. Irrevocable trust beneficiary designations won’t automatically void the contract. Most states don’t have codes for what happens with stepchildren after a divorce. People should update their estate plans because states follow the estate plan.

The emotional attachment for stepchildren doesn’t usually end after a divorce. Spouses should update the estate plan if they think differently after a divorce. Updating estate plans help clarify the state of mind of a person in the present. While non-probate transfer contracts will automatically void, stepchildren or ex-spouses may challenge the decision. Irrevocable life insurance trusts only revoke beneficiaries if the document states it.