Do Marriage and Divorce Constitute the Need for New Wills?

undefinedHave you recently experienced a big life change surrounding marriage? Perhaps you recently walked through a divorce, or are currently in the midst of a dissolution? Alternatively, maybe you've recently gotten engaged or married? If so, it's important that, alongside your divorce matters or marriage plans, you begin to look ahead to how this life event will impact your estate plan.

Often times, people create an estate plan, put it away in a safe place, and forget to review and modify certain details to reflect their current situation over the years. As our lives and relationships change, so do the people who we may prefer to be our executors. Someone who may have been an appropriate executor at the time years ago, may no longer be the person you wish to carry out your wishes, or have access to your assets.

Perhaps one of the biggest estate planning requirements that gets overlooked is the necessity to update a plan after a divorce. Many couples create mirror wills, meaning they each have a will that names each other as their executor and beneficiary. While a divorce decree will separate the lives of two spouses in many areas, they don’t always address estate plans. That means that if you don’t update your estate plan after a divorce, your ex-spouse could remain as your executor and beneficiary years down the road, which is likely not what you intend. This can lead to an expensive, complicated, and drawn-out court process that is difficult for loved ones who are left behind, and is avoidable with proper planning.

Additionally, if you have gotten married or re-married since making a will, you likely need to update your estate plan. Many people are not aware that, unless a will specifically states that it was made “in contemplation of marriage,” it becomes void upon marriage. If you have a will but have been married since making it, then you no longer have a valid will! Likewise, if you have had children since making your will, there are important factors that must be addressed, including appointing guardians, making provisions for your child’s inheritance, and making trust provisions. It’s also noteworthy that if you are in a common law relationship and die without a will stating your preferences and intentions, your partner will receive nothing.

Our firm has extensive experience in creating and modifying estate plans according to big changes and life events. If you would like to make modifications to your existing will, do not hesitate to reach out to our firm. We are here to simplify the process and help you forge the path towards a better tomorrow.