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Can You Change Your Will During a Divorce?

Divorce affects virtually every aspect of your life, and it may be necessary to revisit some plans to account for your new marital status. One of the most important documents to address is your will or estate plan. If you recently divorced but developed your will during your marriage, you will want to make sure your ex does not still have a beneficiary claim on your estate beyond your wishes.

Whether you want to allow your ex to remain a beneficiary in a limited capacity or cut him or her off entirely from your estate, you will need to change your will during or immediately after your divorce.

Tips for Altering Your Will

Every divorce is different, and some couples are more amicable toward each other than others. When a divorce involves resentments, it is highly likely that each spouse will be unwilling to offer any kind of leverage to the other. The timing of your adjustment to your will can also influence divorce proceedings. For example, the adjustments you make prior to divorce could easily influence your spouse to approach the situation differently. Ultimately, you have control over your personal will or estate plan, so it is up to you to decide when and how to alter it.

Your primary goal with any will revision should be to prevent your ex from inheriting your property. In most wills, the will owner’s wife or husband will be the primary beneficiary of the  will owner’s estate. State laws generally refer to the spouse as the primary beneficiary when a deceased person does not have a will or estate plan. Alter your will to ensure your ex or soon-to-be-ex does not have any claim over your property after your death.

Sorting End of Life Plans

A will or estate plan not only includes the will owner’s wishes as to the disbursement of his or her property and assets, but also how the will owner would like to handle things like emergency medical situations, palliative end-of-life care, and preferred burial and funeral arrangements. The person chosen to have power of attorney will ensure these wishes come to fruition, so it is vital to make sure the person chosen will adhere to the decedent’s final wishes.

Choose a new power of attorney or personal representative so your ex does not have the authority to make important decisions on your behalf. If your will names your ex as your power of attorney holder or personal representative, he or she will likely have the authority to make important decisions on your behalf should you become gravely ill or incapacitated.

The changes you make to your will could make life easier on your beneficiaries. If you have children or other relatives to whom you intend to leave your property, alter your will to ensure clear inheritance rights to your beneficiaries.

Speak With a Probate Attorney

An experienced probate lawyer can help you revise your existing will in light of changing life circumstances and ensure the changes you make are legal and protect your interests. A probate attorney will review the elements of your will or estate plan and take your divorce judgment into account to develop reasonable changes that reflect your wishes for your estate.

Divorce can be a very messy and emotional process, and it is vital for anyone going through a divorce to know what to expect in terms of how the change will affect his or her will. An ironclad will helps to ensure your loved ones and beneficiaries receive appropriate portions of your estate after your death, but wills are commonly overlooked in divorce proceedings. Take time to revisit your will during divorce and prevent your ex from having any claim on your property and assets after your death.