It is generally in your best interest to review your estate plan after ending your marriage. This ensures that a former spouse can’t inherit property, serve as your executor or otherwise benefit from your estate. In California, a spouse is essentially disinherited by default after a divorce becomes official.
Be sure to designate alternate beneficiaries
While you may be relieved to know that your former spouse won’t inherit your assets, it could cause other estate planning problems. For instance, items that were held in a trust for this individual might revert back to your estate. This means that they may be subject to probate. It is possible to avoid this problem by designating a new spouse, a family member or close friend as an alternate beneficiary of a given item.
You’ll need to designate a new agent
Initiating a divorce proceeding usually strips your spouse of the right to act as medical or financial agent. In other words, this person cannot made decisions about your medical care, pay your bills or take other actions while you are incapacitated. An estate planning attorney may be able to help you navigate the process of appointing someone to manage your affairs after divorce proceedings begin. If necessary, an attorney might serve as your medical or financial agent.
Be sure to conduct a thorough review of your estate plan
It’s important to note that your former spouse’s children may remain in a will, trust or other portions of your estate plan unless you specifically remove them. Furthermore, a former partner might still retain an ownership interest in a primary residence, rental property or other real estate that is titled in his or her name.
If you are in the process of getting a divorce, it may be a good idea to speak with an estate planning professional. Doing so might ensure that any changes to an estate plan are made in accordance with state law.