In life, there are always going to be transformative changes. One of the biggest changes that people go through is divorce, which not only affects us, but may also trigger a big impact in our legal documents.

The Provision of the Law on Divorce and Wills

Divorce can alter the provisions in a will and make them ineffective. However, the good news is that statutes provide protection for these situations. The law says that if there’s a divorce decree and it has severed the marriage, the decree also severs any reference in a will or trust document to the former spouse.

This effectively deletes the ex-spouse from the will, whether they are assigned in the document as a personal representative or a provision that gives them a certain portion of the deceased’s assets.

So Does the Will Need to be Amended?

Because the law automatically deletes the ex-spouse from the will after a divorce decree, there is no need to amend the document. However, divorce can change other things such as:

  • Estate tax or inheritance tax that counts on using the other spouse’s exemptions. This is no longer possible after divorce.
  • The divorce decree can ratify an existing will or trust. Although this is a rare occurrence, it’s something that people needed to be careful of.
  • Beneficiary designations. There are some insurance policies, retirement plans, etc. that do not get severed along with the divorce. These documents need to be updated if the ex-spouse is listed on them.

By law, a divorce decree severs any reference in a will or trust document to the former spouse, which removes the necessity of updating a will after a divorce. However, people should still consider the other documents that may list their ex-spouse as a beneficiary and update them accordingly to prevent problems in the long run.