For many people living on Florida’s Treasure Coast, the question of what happens to their estate plan if they should ever get divorced is an important one. As with any other significant life event, your estate plan will need to change if your marriage comes to an end. To help explain how divorce affects an estate plan, and what you might need to do if you are thinking about getting divorced, here are several common questions many people have.
What happens to my estate plan if I get divorced?
In general, it’s up to each individual who creates an estate plan to ensure that his or her plan accurately reflects the plan-maker’s needs, desires, and current circumstances. So, should you get divorce, no changes to your plan will take place until you decide to make them.
This is important to note because some people can go through a divorce and forget about the estate plans they have made. In the wrong circumstances, forgetting to update your plan could lead to serious problems later on if and when it comes time to use the individual pieces you have created.
What will I need to change with my estate plan if I get a divorce?
There are several issues you will have to pay most attention to if your marriage is coming to an end. First, there is the question of inheritance.
As you may already know, spouses have the automatic right to inherit from one another upon the other spouse’s death. While it is possible to voluntarily surrender this spousal inheritance right, you cannot divest your spouse of those rights without his or her consent.
On the other hand, once you get divorced, your right to inherit from your spouse automatically terminates. If you have created an estate plan that recognizes this right, you will need to go back and modify the inheritance terms you included to ensure that there is no confusion.
Second, there is the question of incapacitation. Many people who craft an incapacity plan choose their spouses as their chosen representatives through powers of attorney, medical directives, or other specific tools. Should you become incapacitated, your spouse will have the right to make decisions on your behalf. But, if you get divorced, will you still want your ex-spouse to make these decisions for you? Many people do not, while others might. It all depends on your personal preferences.
Regardless of what your personal desires are when it comes to incapacitation, you need to make sure that your estate plan is clear about who you want your representative to be.