Getting a divorce means severing all legal bonds with your former spouse, including the rights, privileges, and assets you assigned to them in your estate planning documentation. While in many cases, state divorce laws automatically invalidate wills and powers of attorney after a marriage is dissolved, it's in your best interests to make sure your estate plan reflects these dramatic life changes.
After a divorce, it usually becomes necessary to:
- Write a New Will: While the state will usually prevent your former spouse from inheriting your assets, other provisions may survive the divorce. For instance, if you named their children as beneficiaries of any aspect of your estate, they will probably still inherit the property unless you invalidate the will and prepare a new one. In some states, a divorce invalidates your entire will, meaning the state will treat your estate as though you had no will at all if you die before preparing a new one.
- Invalidate Powers of Attorney: In many states, initiating divorce proceedings automatically invalidates durable powers of attorney allowing one spouse to act as an agent for the other. However, if the document names the spouse as a legal guardian if you're unable to look after your own affairs, this provision may remain in effect until the divorce is finalized. This can be very dangerous if something happens to you before the final decree is issued, so have these documents amended as soon as possible.
- Assign New Life Insurance Beneficiaries: While divorce laws generally treat the designation of an ex-spouse as ineffective unless it is specifically included in the final settlement, you will have to name new beneficiaries to ensure your wishes are respected after your death.
The legal team at Weingast Law has been helping clients throughout Hartford, CT, navigate the complexities of divorce law for over 35 years. Visit their website to see their comprehensive list of family law services, or call (860) 233-1440 to schedule your consultation with an accomplished divorce attorney today.