Effects of Divorce on Wills

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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How Does a Divorce Affect my Will?

The effects of a divorce on a will depend on your state's specific law.  In some cases, a divorce automatically revokes your entire will.  In others, it only revokes the testamentary provisions that make gifts to your former spouse.  In some states, a divorce may not have any effect on a will.  It is important to know what the law in your state is.

What if I am Separated From my Spouse?

In most states, even a legal separation does not revoke testamentary provisions to a spouse.  If you are separated from your spouse, any provisions in your will making gifts to them are still valid.  In order to terminate them, you must re-write your will so that your spouse is no longer included.  Some states will not allow you to disinherit your spouse before a divorce is finalized.

What Happens if I Do Not Revise my Will After a Divorce?

If you are divorced and die before you revise your will, what happens to your property depends on your state's law.  The property that your will gives to your ex-spouse may go to those listed in your will as receiving everything left over, it may go to your former spouse, or it may be distributed according to your state's intestacy laws.  It is important to rewrite your will after a divorce in order to control what happens to your property after you die!

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help me Rewrite my Will After a Divorce?

An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to help you rewrite your will after a divorce to ensure that you control what happens to your property after you die.  Your attorney will be familiar with your state's laws and can help you best draft your will by taking into consideration any tax implications or legal formalities.

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Last Modified: 04-17-2012 11:59 AM PDT

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