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The Hawkins Law Firm

160 N. Brindlee Mountain Parkway
Arab, AL 35016

Changes to Make to Your Estate Plan after a Divorce

Living trust Document

There are so many changes occurring at once when you divorce that it can be easy to let one slip through the cracks. Amidst moving to a new home and sharing custody of your children, you may forget about one of the most important documents you’ll need to update upon divorcing: your estate plan. Certain changes to your last will and testament occur automatically, but those changes might not occur when you’d need them to, nor be the changes that would best represent your wishes. Read on to learn about changes you’ll need to make to your estate plan when you divorce, and consult with an experienced estate planning and family law attorney for assistance.

A former spouse will be treated as though they died before you

When your divorce is finalized by the Alabama family court, if your now-former spouse was still listed in your will, they will be treated as though they passed away before you, should you die before revising your will. This means that the gifts you’d left to your spouse will simply be distributed to the other heirs listed in your will or, if your entire estate had been left to your spouse, will be distributed according to the rules of intestate succession. However, before your divorce is final, any gifts left to that spouse in your will would still go to them if you were to die suddenly, which may not be what you wanted. On the other hand, if you share minor children with that spouse, you might want your spouse to receive a portion of your estate if you died, to enable them to care for the children you shared. You can control what portion of your estate your spouse takes by redrafting your will with the help of a skilled estate planning attorney.

Trust beneficiaries and personal representative designations need your attention

For many years, Alabama law provided that, even after a divorce, a spouse who was still listed as the beneficiary of an insurance policy or financial account would remain the beneficiary even after a divorce. That law has now changed, treating spouses listed as beneficiaries as though they predeceased the principal account holder. However, this means that your insurance policy or account might have no beneficiary listed after your divorce. Additionally, if you’ve listed your spouse as the executor of your will, or as the individual designated in your advance directive to make end-of-life decisions on your behalf, you’ll need to update those documents to list someone who will have your best interests at heart when taking on those roles.

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