When you go through a divorce, you have a lot on your mind. You must deal with big issues like child custody, property division and spousal support and they likely occupy most of your time. But your divorce also impacts your estate planning, so it’s important to understand what needs to be addressed there too.
Revocation upon divorce
When two people marry, I find it common for one spouse to name the other spouse as beneficiary for some (or all) of their property in a will. It’s also common to name your spouse as the executor of your estate. But what happens if you divorce and forget to change those designations?
New York recognizes that someone newly divorced may want to remove their former spouse from their will but neglect to do so. As such, it has a statute on the books that automatically revokes any designation relating to your spouse as soon as the divorce is final. This revocation affects your ex-spouse’s status as both a beneficiary and executor of your will.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that, even if the statute’s result is what you wanted, you should still update your will when you’re able to. Once the revocation occurs, it leaves a ‘hole’ in your will until you change it. Although the rest of your will remains in effect, any assets you previously left to your spouse will instead be treated as though you died intestate. And unless you named an alternate executor, you will no longer have one named.
Your will is not the only thing impacted by a divorce. Other instruments, such as trusts and life insurance policies, can also be affected. If you have questions or want to update your estate plan, reach out to me and we’ll ensure it reflects what you want to accomplish.