Do Marriage and Divorce Constitute the Need for New Wills?

undefinedHave you recently experienced a big life change surrounding marriage? Perhaps you recently walked through a divorce, or are currently in the midst of a dissolution? Alternatively, maybe you've recently gotten engaged or married? If so, it's important that, alongside your divorce matters or marriage plans, you begin to look ahead to how this life event will impact your estate plan. Even if you already have a will created, you may need to change your executor or attorney. Having an estate plan is not useful if you don’t appoint the right person to carry it out. Many people made their wills years ago and named executors who were appropriate at the time, but are no longer appropriate due to that person’s death, age or a change in life circumstances. If that is the case, you should update your will.

Likewise, one of the biggest issues in estate planning relates to couples who have plans in place but have not updated them since getting separated or divorced. Most couples make mirror wills, which means they name each other as executor and beneficiary. When you are separated, your will provisions don’t automatically change. So if you named your separated spouse as your estate trustee or beneficiary, that is still the case, even if you’ve separated.

The law around a divorced spouse being named as a beneficiary or executor is even more complicated. If you named your previous spouse in your will, that person gets skipped over — as if they were dead — and if you don’t have a backup beneficiary or executor, then your estate will likely face an expensive, complicated court process — one that could have been avoided with proper planning.

If you have gotten married since making a will, you likely need a new one. Many people are not aware that, unless a will specifically states that it was made “in contemplation of marriage,” it becomes void upon marriage. If you have a will but have been married since making it, then you no longer have a valid will and need to make one as soon as possible. If you have had children since making your will, there are important factors that must be addressed, as well, including appointing guardians, making provisions for your child’s inheritance and making trust provisions. It’s also noteworthy that if you are in a common law relationship and die without a will, your partner will receive nothing.

Our firm has extensive experience in creating and modifying estate plans according to big changes and life events. If you would like to make modifications to your existing will, do not hesitate to reach out to our firm. We are here to simplify the process and help you forge the path towards a better tomorrow.