As an Estate Planning Attorney, I hear this question a lot, “I am recently divorced, do I need to update my Estate Plan?” The simple answer is “Yes.”
If you and/or your former spouse took time to make estate plans at some point during the marriage, then it’s likely that your former spouse is nominated as your personal representative (also referred to as an executor) in your Will. A divorce decree will not automatically void this nomination. So if you feel strongly that you are no longer comfortable with your former spouse stepping in and administering your estate, your Will should be updated.
This is true even if you had nominated one or even two other alternate personal representatives. The court will want to appoint the person based on priority, e.g. first nominee, second nominee, etc… Even if your former spouse is not the first nominee, the only way to ensure that they will not be appointed is to draft a new Will.
In addition, if you had prepared an estate plan during the marriage it is highly likely that it was written for your former spouse to inherit your estate upon passing and vice versa. Once the divorce is finalized and all the property has been appropriately split between the two of you. You received your share and your former spouse received their share. Now, in light of the divorce, you’ll want to re-evaluate who you will want to inherit and how much you will want them to inherit. If you have minor children, you will need to decide at what age you wish for them to inherit and the best manner if which for them to inherit.
Updating your estate plan is especially critical if you have children together and you and your former spouse do not agree on how they should be cared for. Ask yourself: How do you want the kids to be taken care of if something happens to you? And what if something should happen to both of you?