The answer to this question depends on many different factors, but there are very few situations where someone should even consider not revising his or her will after a divorce – or even earlier. Although most states assume that you do not want property going to your ex-spouse, it is always best to lay out your intentions so that your wishes are clearly heard and to avoid extra work for the recipients of your estate.
Do I Have to Disinherit My Ex-Spouse?
In California, your spouse is removed as a recipient in your will automatically, but it is still better to be clear of what your intentions are. You do not have to expressly disinherit your spouse or publicly revoke your will necessarily, but you should make sure to execute a new will allocating all of your assets to other people. If you have a will but do not change it after your divorce, your spouse should no longer be able to inherit from you, but the rest of your will will still remain intact. However, many people only list their spouse in their will, so your will may be left without someone to inherit, in which case your property will be disbursed among your closest living relatives, regardless of what your unexpressed wishes are. Even though your possessions may go to the right person eventually anyway, having a will helps you clearly spell out what your wishes are and should save time and effort in the long run for your executor and the recipients. It is better to name a primary beneficiary and a few alternates in case you outlive the primary one. If you have children, it is also a good idea to name a guardian or two.
You should also make sure to name a new executor to your estate to avoid your ex-spouse handling your estate. Many states automatically assume that it is not your intent to have your former spouse be your executor, but it is still better to be safe than have your estate mismanaged.
What About My Ex-Spouse’s Family Members?
In addition to revoking gifts or bequests from you to your ex-spouse, state law also typically revokes gifts or bequests from you to any members of your ex-spouse’s family (except for children that are both of yours). Therefore, if you do not revise your will after your divorce, the jewelry or property that you set aside for your step-child or your sibling-in-law might not be a valid transfer, even if you still care about them after the divorce and wanted them to get the property after your death.
No matter how complicated your divorce, we can help. For help with your case or in any other aspect of family law, you can turn to the Law Office of Renkin & Associates for the help that you deserve. We are prepared to answer your questions and fight for your assets.