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How Will Separation or Divorce Affect Your Estate Plan?

house split by divorced couple

When you’re in the midst of a divorce or separation from your spouse, you have a lot to think about, and what will happen to your property should you pass away suddenly may not be in the front of your mind. However, if it is important to you that your property passes to your children or other family members rather than your estranged spouse, you need to act quickly to correct your estate planning documents and beneficiary designations. Contact a knowledgeable Kentucky family law and estate planning attorney as soon as possible to ensure your will reflects your intent.

How a last will & testament changes after a divorce is final

You may have written your will years ago after you got married or first had children, creating a document that accurately reflected your wishes at the time. However, after you divorce, you probably don’t intend for your former spouse to inherit most or all of your property when you die. The laws of Kentucky function to write a spouse out of your will if you failed to revise it after divorcing but prior to passing away. The probate court treats the will as though your former spouse has already died, so that what would have been their share of your estate could pass to the children you share.

A separation will not have the same effect as a divorce

The trouble often comes when one spouse dies unexpectedly while in the midst of a divorce, or during a long-term separation. Courts will not prevent an estranged spouse from inheriting under a will until a divorce is entirely final, even if spouses haven’t been living under the same roof for years.

Likewise, if you’ve implemented trusts in your estate plan, you will also need to take action if your spouse was listed as a beneficiary on one or more trusts. Unlike your last will and testament, the beneficiary of a trust will not change automatically when your divorce becomes final.

There are many reasons why you should meet with an experienced estate planning attorney after you decide to divorce. You may wish to include your ex-spouse in your will, though not to the extent of a current spouse. You may also want to provide for a surviving spouse, but not to continue doing so should they remarry. A skilled Kentucky estate planning attorney can help you craft the plan that carries out your wishes and can stand up to challenges.

For assistance with a Kentucky divorce or creation of an estate plan, contact the knowledgeable and detail-oriented Louisville estate planning and family law attorneys at John H. Ruby & Associates, at 502-895-2626.