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Your estate plan can change automatically after divorce

On Behalf of | May 6, 2022 | Estate Planning |

It is no surprise that, as the circumstances of your life change, so too will your estate planning needs. Certain life events will necessitate you proactively updating your plan to reflect your new circumstances. What you may not realize is that, following a divorce, some aspects will be altered as a matter of law.

Certain terms of your will can be revoked

It is very common for one spouse to name the other as the executor to their will. It is also common to name that spouse as a beneficiary to some, or all, of the assets included in a will. Following a divorce, you may no longer wish for your ex-spouse to remain as executor or beneficiary. But considering the emotional roller-coaster a divorce can be, it is easy to forget to change your estate plan.

Fortunately, Texas recognizes this potential problem. Estate Code Section 123.001 presents a solution, by automatically revoking the designation of your spouse as either executor or beneficiary in your will. The revocation occurs once your divorce is finalized. To accomplish this, a legal fiction is created – should you pass away without making any other change to your will, Texas law treats the situation as though your ex-spouse passed away before you did.

This does not mean you must abide by the revocation, however, if you choose to retain your ex-spouse as executor or beneficiary. You can elect to override the effect of the statute by stating so in the final divorce order or by re-executing your will once the divorce is final.

Whichever course you choose, it is still advisable to update your will following divorce. If you rely solely on the effect of the revocation statute, the affected provisions of your will are treated as if you were intestate, taking it out of your hands entirely.