Divorces are often emotionally difficult and draining—big life changes are occurring, which are stressful enough on their own. But when people are going through this process, often the last thing on their mind is updating their estate plan. However, estate planning nightmares may occur if individuals do not update their estate plans after a divorce. Former spouses and stepchildren may be able to take advantage of the estate plan if it is not changed—regardless of the person’s intentions. Below is information and advice for newly divorced Texans, explaining why updating their estate plan as soon as possible is essential.
Why Do I Need to Update My Estate Plan After My Divorce?
Estate planning may not seem like a top priority after a divorce. However, this is incorrect. While former spouses no longer have certain benefits from an estate plan—even if the estate plan is not changed—there are some designations that are not automatically revoked unless the estate plan is actively changed. For example, in Texas, unless a person actively removes their former spouse from their life insurance policy, the ex-spouse can still stand to receive the policy benefit if the individual passes away.
Additionally, if the person has left their former spouse certain assets or property that were not co-owned in their will, they will need to change this too. Otherwise, the former spouse will likely still receive them. In many cases, people will also forget that their former spouse is listed as their healthcare proxy—meaning, if they are not able to make decisions about their healthcare and treatment on their own, the proxy will make it for them. These are all aspects of estate planning that should be reviewed after an individual has gone through a divorce.
Can I Keep My Former Spouse or Former Stepchildren in the Will?
Just because spouses divorce does not necessarily mean the emotional attachment will end—either to the partner or to the stepchildren they helped raise. While an individual is able to exclude them from the will, they do not have to do so. However, if the individual does not want to include either their former spouse or stepchildren in their will—and not leave them any assets or property—it is important to amend the estate plan, so they do not have a viable legal claim in the future.
Divorces and all of the changes that come with them can be stressful enough. Reach out to an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as the divorce is finalized so they can assist in amending the estate plan.
Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney
If you or a loved one needs to update their estate plan after their divorce, contact the Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. Our attorneys can advise you on the necessary changes you should make to your estate plan after your divorce. If you do not have an estate plan in place, we can assist you with this process and craft a plan that fits your unique needs. To speak with one of our attorneys and to schedule a consultation, give us a call today at 713-333-8900.