November 9, 2021
Why You Need To Change Your Will After Divorce
Divorce is never easy, but it’s also not the end of your legal relationship with your ex-spouse. For years, you likely planned your estate around the eventuality that you and your ex-partner would care for each other in your old age. Now that this is no longer the case, you need to plan your estate around caring for yourself, your children, if you have any, and not leaving things to your ex-spouse. If you’ve finalized your divorce, now it’s time to change your will.
Pennsylvania law revokes your partner’s rights to your assets after your death, whether you have a will or not, or if you don’t change your will. While this is true, you shouldn’t rely on a state law that can be avoided with good legal representation. Your ex-spouse could make the legal argument that you reconciled and intended to leave them your assets or that you owed them assets from your previous marriage. State law isn’t strong protection against this, especially when you’re no longer able to make your case.
Don’t leave it up to chance. Contact an attorney about changing or making a will after your divorce is complete.
How Should You Change Your Will?
There are several specific things you need to change in your will as soon as your divorce is over. This will work to ensure they don’t receive any of your assets, whether they try to or not.
Destroy the Old One
The first thing you want to do is destroy your old will. If you don’t have one, focus on what assets you need to account for. But if you do have a will, ensure that it is disposed of so there is no legal document stating that you intended for your assets to go to your ex-spouse.
If you don’t, your ex-spouse can use it as proof that you still intended for your assets to go to them after your death. Even if this is the case, it’s important to detail specifics in a new document.
Identify New Beneficiaries
Whether you have children or not, you want to cite someone in your new will as the one you want to receive your assets. It can be your children, a surviving family member, or even a charity or an organization.
Take Into Account Any Stipulations From Your Divorce
After your divorce, you may be expected to leave some kind of financial package for your spouse or your children. If you owe spousal support and you die before you’ve finished providing it, your spouse has grounds to sue for your assets. You can avoid issues by establishing a set of assets that can finish paying off the spousal support you owe per your agreement.
You can be in a similar situation if you have children that you have to pay child support for. You can create trusts to go along with your will to provide for child support. Some divorces even have agreements that one or both parents will create a fund or trust for their child for when they turn a certain age or accomplish a certain goal. The solution to this would work the same for situations with child support.
If you’re not sure if your divorce contract would necessitate payment for your spouse or children, bring it to your local estate planning attorney.
Update Your Appointed Executor
Your old will likely had an appointed executor. The executor is the one who executes the instructions of your will. Now that your old will isn’t up-to-date, and in some cases, invalid, you need to update your executor. You may want to consider a new executor who you can trust has no ties to your ex-spouse.
Once you have an executor you can trust, they need to know and understand all of your current wishes, including anything regarding your ex-spouse.
Update Your Powers of Attorney
Much like with your appointed executor, your old powers of attorney were decided with your spouse. After you decide who you can trust to control your healthcare and finances should you lose the ability to do so yourself, they need to be updated and properly informed.
Contact MKPV Law in Scranton For Help Changing Your Will
This is less than an ideal time in your life to consider your future, but it’s important to protect what you have while you can. If you don’t want your current assets running the risk of going to your ex-spouse after your death, contact the estate planning attorneys at Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano for assistance.