Previous articles on our blog touched upon the fact that there are certain life events that should prompt you to revisit your estate plans. A divorce is certainly one such event, as it undoubtedly impacts your desire for your ex-spouse to benefit from your estate.
The main concern for those who have gone through a divorce is that their ex-spouse may inadvertently inherit their assets if they fail to update their will. Is this a legitimate concern?
The effect divorce has on estate plans
According to Section 5-1.4 of New York’s Estates, Powers and Trust Law, your divorce or annulment automatically revokes any of the following elements of your estate plan in regard to your ex-spouse:
- Any disposition of assets or property
- Any provision conferring a power of appointment or power of disposition
- Any nomination to serve in any sort of fiduciary or representative capacity
In addition, your divorce also revokes any potential benefit typically paid to a spouse from a life insurance, pension or retirement plan. In the proverbial eyes of the law, it is as though your spouse preceded you in death.
Should you maintain a role for your ex-spouse in your estate plan?
With the concern over your ex-spouse benefiting from your estate now addressed, you may want to consider whether you should still keep them as part of your estate plans. Your children likely take your ex-spouse’s place as your primary beneficiaries (at least until the point you choose to remarry). If they are still young, you may want to appoint one to be a trustee over their assets until they reach the age of majority. Your ex-spouse may be a prime candidate for that role, given that they also likely have your kids’ best interest in mind.