Here’s How A California Divorce Will Affect Your Estate Plan
If you are currently going through a divorce, you must keep in mind that divorce can impact your future plans, including your estate plan. If you signed a will while married, chances are, you left possessions and/or money to your spouse. Also, chances are, if you made a will while you were married, you named your spouse as your executor or to make medical decisions or handle finances in the event that something happened to you. If that is the case with you, now that you are going through a divorce, you need to ask yourself if you would want your ex-spouse to inherit your possessions or money, handle your finances on your behalf, make crucial medical decisions on your behalf, and/or act as your will’s executor. Suppose you do not want your spouse to act as the executor of your will, inherit your money or possession, and/or make medical decisions on your behalf and handle your finances in the event that something happened to you. In that case, you should consider making changes to your estate plan.
According to California law, a divorce or annulment revokes all inheritances made to a spouse in a will. California Probate Code § 6122 states that, unless a will expressly provides otherwise, if a testator’s marriage is dissolved or annulled, the annulment or dissolution revokes all of the following:
- Any appointment or disposition of property made by the will to the former spouse.
- Any provision of the will that confers a power of appointment on the former spouse.
- Any provision of a spouse’s will that nominates the former spouse as trustee, executor, guardian, or conservator.
However, since this law only applies after the divorce has been finalized, if your divorce is pending, you should consider making changes to your will if you are no longer comfortable with the current one.
One of the most effective ways for you to make changes to your will while your divorce is still pending is for you to make a new will, and you can do so by tearing your current will and signing a new one that specifically states your new wishes.
If you don’t want your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to be a beneficiary of your money or possessions, you should also consider changing your other legal documents that will give away some of your assets to them after you die. If, for instance, your spouse is a beneficiary of a pay-on-death bank account, and you no longer want them as a beneficiary, you need to actively request a change of beneficiary from the company that holds the account. In California, there is no law that revokes the contents of a P.O.D. bank account.
Lastly, if you signed powers of attorney or any advance instruction for end-of-life decisions, you should change them if your wishes have changed. Even if you feel you want to leave things as they are, you need to keep in mind that changing Powers of Attorney is usually crucial in cases where a divorce is not amicable.
Contact The Probate Guy for Help
Contact the skilled California estate planning attorney, Robert L. Cohen of The Probate Guy, for legal guidance if you are concerned about how your divorce will affect your estate plan.