Changing Your Will After a Divorce

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on March 01, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Hopefully you have a written will, especially if you have children, but after a divorce you need to think about changing what your will says.

What does your will say exactly? Most include provisions for what to do with your assets and possessions and specifies a guardian for your children. A will might also include your wishes with respect to a funeral or your final medical care.

After a divorce there's a lot of paperwork that needs to be done and changes that need to be made so each person can be legally independent. Your will might be forgotten, but that's a mistake.

It Could Leave Someone Out

When everything was going well in your marriage, your spouse was probably the beneficiary of your will. But now that spouse has become an ex; do you really want to leave your belongings to an ex?

Maybe you have a new person in your life now. Or perhaps you want to make a different family member the beneficiary.

If you don't update your will, that may not happen. Taking care of it now will make things easier for your family later on.

Take Care of Your Children

If you pass away while your ex is still alive, there's a good chance any children you shared will go live with their other parent.

Is that what you want? Because your will is your last chance to voice your opinions.

What about a situation where your ex isn't able to take the kids? Your will should specify a guardian for your children who you can trust. That may be someone different than you'd chosen before the divorce.

Make Sure it's Binding

A will is a legal document, which means there are some rules about how to make or change one.

If you don't have a will yet, now is the time to make one. Figure out your state's laws on how to make a law that will stand up in court. If you're not sure where to start, call a local lawyer and ask about a consultation.

If you have an existing will, you can either amend it or revoke it and start fresh. Don't forget to get rid of old copies of the will that no longer reflect your wishes.

Making or correcting a will is something that often takes a back seat to more current issues but that can put your children and relatives at risk if the unexpected happens. It doesn't take long to smooth things out for the future.

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