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Why should you update your will after your divorce?

| Sep 5, 2019 | Estate Planning |

It is recommended by estate planning experts in Saint Charles that you create a will early on in your adult life (as you never know when you might die). Your spouse will no doubt factor into your estate planning decisions. What happens, then, if after creating a will (and including provisions which address the distribution of assets to your spouse) you then choose to get a divorce? 

Some might tell you that if you fail to update your will following your divorce, you risk inadvertently leaving your ex-spouse whatever you had previously earmarked for them to inherit. Yet that is not the case. Per Section 474.420 of Missouri’s Revised Statutes, any provisions or terms of your will that bequeath your spouse assets or property, or designate any rights of appointment regarding the administration of your estate are revoked the moment that your divorce becomes final. In the eyes of the law, it would be as though your ex-spouse died when you were divorced. 

There may, however, be valid reasons why you would want your ex-spouse to remain a part of your estate plans. Say that you have young children together, and you intend for your children to be your primary beneficiaries. You may want to consider putting whatever assets you plan on leaving to them in a trust, and naming your ex-spouse as the trustee over those assets in order to manage them until your kids come of age. 

Whatever you choose to do, you will indeed want to update your will following your divorce. Even though your divorce effectively disinherits your ex-spouse, if you fail to stipulate who should replace them as a beneficiary, those assets could become subject to intestate succession guidelines.