The Impact of Divorce on Your Last Will and Testament

July 14, 2023

Under state law in Texas, a divorce or annulment of a marriage will revoke any portion of a will that involves a former spouse. For example, if you left everything to your spouse and did not change your will after you divorce, those provisions would be revoked. Your assets would then be distributed according to the intestacy laws in the state. Although your spouse will not receive any of your property if you pass away, it is still of critical importance that you update your will after divorce.

Reasons to Update Your Will After Divorce

There are many reasons to update your will after divorce. They include:

  • Protect your child’s inheritance: Reviewing and updating your will after ending your marriage will allow you to make sure that any inheritance left to your children is protected. If your children are still minors, you may want to consider establishing a trust for your children, which may require you to appoint a new trustee.
  • Appoint a new executor: It is not uncommon for spouses to name each other as executors of their will and estate. Also review any trusts you have created, as you may have to appoint new trustees, as well.
  • Add or remove beneficiaries: One of the main purposes of a will is to provide for your beneficiaries in the event that you pass away. After a divorce, you may want to add beneficiaries or remove them, particularly if you left property to people on your former spouse’s side of the family.
  • Prevent challenges to the will: If you do not update your will after divorce, it may be easier for your former spouse or other family members to challenge it. Updating your will ensures that you can clearly outline your intentions and preferences and minimize the chance of challenges and other disputes arising.

The above are just a few reasons to review your will after your divorce. A lawyer can review the document with you and advise of the necessary changes to make to ensure your best interests are protected.

Other Estate Planning Tools to Review After Divorce

Your will is not the only estate planning tool you should update after your divorce. Other important documents to review and change, if needed, include:

  • Beneficiary designations on policies and accounts: If you listed your former spouse as a beneficiary on an insurance policy or retirement account, they may still receive funds if you pass away, as the law does nothing to change that. As such, it is critical that you review these accounts and policies and make the necessary changes to reflect your current wishes.
  • Advance directives and powers of attorney: If your former spouse is appointed as your power of attorney, or you named them as your agent to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, it is important to change these documents so you can choose another person to have this authority. Always make sure you choose a person you trust in your advance directive or as your power of attorney, which is likely no longer your former spouse.
  • Tax considerations: A divorce can have tax implications for your estate, as well as any beneficiaries you have appointed. It is important to speak to an experienced attorney who can advise on your estate and any tax implications you may not have known about or have not considered.

How to Update Your Will After Divorce in Texas

While you may know that it is important to update your will after divorce, you may not know how to do it. The main steps involved are as follows:

  • Review your existing will: Of course, to know which changes you need to make to your existing will, you first have to review it. Read through your current will carefully and identify any provisions you would like to change. Any terms involving your former spouse will need to be changed, but now is a good time to determine if you need to make any other changes, as well.
  • Contact an experienced family law attorney: A family law attorney can guide you through the divorce process and help you obtain the fair settlement you deserve. After your divorce, however, an attorney can also help you navigate the process of making changes to or updating your will to make sure it complies with state law and is enforceable.
  • Create a new will or codicil: A lawyer can assist you with drafting a new will or creating a codicil. A codicil is an amendment to your current will. Regardless of whether you creating an entirely new will or making amendments, the document should distinctly state the changes you want to make. A lawyer will also inform you of how to execute the will so it complies with state law. For example, you may have to sign your will in the presence of two witnesses in order for it to be enforceable.
  • Store your new will in a safe place: You should keep your will in a secure place, such as at your attorney’s office or in a safety deposit box. Your lawyer can advise on whether you should destroy previous versions of your will. Sometimes, this is beneficial, but if there is any question of the validity of a new will, it can be useful to retain previous versions. Working closely with an attorney can ensure the validity of a new will is not brought into question.

Our Estate Planning Lawyer in Houston Can Help Update Your Will

If you have recently gotten a divorce, you should not overlook the importance of updating your will. It is important to ensure your wishes are fulfilled, and our Houston estate planning lawyer at Integrity Law Group can help you navigate the process. Our attorney has the necessary experience to make sure your will is valid and executed properly so it is not subject to challenges in the future. Call us now at (832) 280-9576 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help.

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