Serving South King County and the Surrounding Areas.

Your divorce can turn your estate plan upside-down

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2023 | Estate Planning, Family Law |

It is natural for people to want to take care of their loved ones. An integral part of that is having an estate plan that details how the person – known as the testator – doles out their property after death.

In most instances, a spouse or domestic partner will be in line to inherit a share of the estate. Often, they inherit nearly all of it. However, once the document is written, people need to understand how a divorce or ending the domestic partnership will impact the property that they were going to get according to the will.

The end of a marriage automatically changes the will

People who have left property to a spouse and then gotten divorced should know that the will changes automatically. For example, if there was an automobile, sentimental items or collectibles that the testator wanted the spouse to have and still wants them to have it even if the marriage is over, they must make sure to add provisions to the will expressing that.

The marriage or domestic partnership ending is viewed under the law as being comparable to the former spouse or domestic partner dying before the testator or dying at the same time. The property that was meant to go to that person will then be subject to intestate laws and could be left to people the testator did not want it to go to.

This is a part of estate planning that people are frequently unaware of. Simply because a relationship ended does not automatically mean that the former partner will be completely cut from the testator’s life. If they have children together, had a long relationship and parted on relatively good terms, then the will can provide for them. In other cases, the relationship ended badly and the testator does not want to leave the same amount of property to the former spouse. In either instance, it must be noted.

Be aware of the nuance of estate planning laws

Simply creating an estate plan is a good step, but that does not mean the process is over. People’s lives change after they have completed their will, trust or other estate planning document. With that, it is imperative to update it accordingly to make sure the testator’s wishes are carried out. Knowing the laws and how to be fully protected is critical.