Changing Your Will After a Divorce

5599532222_5dd458c713_zImage credit: Ken Mayer

Unfortunately, divorce continues to be a fact of life as we know it. We here at Veitengruber Law sincerely hope that your marriage remains one of love and devotion, but if it should happen to end in divorce, there are important things that you need to know about your Last Will and Testament.

Most married couples intend to leave all of their property to each other, should anything happen to one of them. These are often referred to as ‘I Love You’ wills, and they are used when a couple’s financial situation does not require intensive estate tax planning. These wills are simple and to the point, and read something like this: “Upon my death, I leave my entire estate to my spouse, outright and free of trust.”

What happens to your entire estate if you and your spouse divorce but you never change your will?

Although going through a divorce is without a doubt a time of intense emotional upheaval, and the last thing on your mind may be your estate, it’s imperative that you make adjustments to your will sooner rather than later. New Jersey wills essentially ignore the former spouse’s existence altogether, essentially skipping him or her and moving on to the next beneficiary.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your divorce, your next-in-line beneficiary may or may not still be appropriate. Perhaps you have named ex-in-laws in your will. Many times, ex-in-laws become less than friendly after a divorce occurs, so you would need to make the appropriate changes to ensure that your Last Will and Testament is handled as you so desire.

In many cases, ex-spouses get along just fine and have remained good friends even after a divorce. If the situation sounds like yours, you may have both decided to keep each other as beneficiaries both in your will and in your life insurance policies. Many couples do this if the divorce was amicable and if there are children who will need to be supported at such time as the death of one of the parents. In this case, you will need to execute a will or codicil after your New Jersey divorce is finalized. In doing so, you tell the court that, although you are divorced, you still wish to have your ex-spouse as your primary beneficiary. You may also choose to have your Final Judgment of Divorce reflect your intentions to continue naming each other as beneficiaries in your will and/or your life insurance policies.

As there are many issues that need to be addressed under the N.J.S.A. § 3B:3-14 statute, including “survivorship” rights, retirement plans, insurance policies and more, it is important to revisit your estate plan after such a life-changing event as a divorce. Veitengruber Law can and will walk you through the process of making the appropriate changes to your estate plan in your time of need.

2 Responses to Changing Your Will After a Divorce

  1. Pingback: My Husband Never Listed Me on his Life Insurance Policy! | Veitengruber Law

  2. Pingback: Veitengruber Law and the Divorce Attorney: How We Can Help You | Veitengruber Law

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