When you get divorced, you and your ex will need to split your shared lives to move on separately. When sharing life together, many married couples will leave some of or all their estate to their spouse in their will. But if a couple gets divorced after having executed wills, are spouses automatically removed from wills? Or can exes still inherit from one another?
Divorce and Wills
In Texas, if you have named your spouse as a beneficiary under your will, following your divorce they are treated as having predeceased you. As a result, the assets that would have gone to your ex-spouse are instead given to an alternative beneficiary if your will names one or are passed to your surviving heirs under Texas’s intestacy law.
However, your spouse only ceases to inherit under your will once your divorce is finalized. If you and your spouse are only separated and have not yet finalized your divorce, they will be entitled to inherit under your will if you pass away. But your ex may still be entitled to inherit under your will if you later remarry that spouse after your divorce or if you draft a new will, after the divorce, and rename your former spouse in that will.
In addition, Texas law also affects life insurance policies issued in the state following divorce. Like a will, if you have named your spouse as a beneficiary under your life insurance policy, they are terminated as a beneficiary upon the finalization of your divorce. However, you retain the option to add them back as a beneficiary after your divorce has been finalized.
For example, you might add your ex back as a beneficiary on your life insurance policy if you are ordered to maintain life insurance to secure your alimony or child support obligation. Importantly, federal insurance and retirement benefits are not affected by Texas state law, so unless you change beneficiary designations for these policies, your ex may still be entitled to inherit benefits.
Why Updating Your Will Regularly Is Still Important
While divorce has an automatic effect on your will if you have named your ex as a beneficiary, you should still review and update your will regularly. This is especially true after major life events like divorce, marrying a new spouse, having children and grandchildren, experiencing a substantial increase in income from a new job, or coming to own substantial assets. Even though your ex may not inherit from your will after your divorce, you likely will want to redirect the bequest that your ex would have received to another family member. If you have not named an alternative beneficiary for the assets that your ex would have received, those assets will instead go to any residuary beneficiaries you named in your will or will pass according to Texas intestacy law.
Updating your will is also important to make sure that new children or grandchildren are provided for according to your wishes. And when the value of your estate substantially increases in size, such as when you acquire real estate or other valuable property, you may want to ensure that your will disposes of those assets in accordance with your wishes. Regularly checking your will and estate plan can also allow you to make updates as your wishes change over time.
Contact Us for Help
If you’ve recently gone through a divorce, contact Hargrave Law, PC, today for a confidential consultation. You can speak with our Bedford and Grapevine, TX estate planning attorneys. We can help you to revise your will and other estate planning documents to reflect your new family status. Call us today at (866) 444-4606.