Naperville Estate Planning Lawyer on How a Divorce Can Affect Your Will

divorce, Naperville estate planning attorneyAs an estate planning attorney, I encourage everyone to create and maintain an estate plan. It is important to do to protect yourself and your family in the event of something unexpected happening. The size of your estate and the types of things that it includes will dictate the tools that are necessary for your estate plan, but almost every estate plan will include a will.

However, what if the unexpected event is a divorce? Ending your marriage can have a dramatic impact on your estate plan in general and your will specifically. If you are considering a divorce, there are some things you need know about updating your will.

The Basics

For many people, a last will and testament represents the foundation of their estate plan. In a will, you can formalize how you want your assets to be distributed upon your death, appoint a guardian for your children, and much more. Your will should also name a person to serve as the executor of your estate.

According to Illinois law, your will largely remains valid and enforceable when you get divorced. However, if your will contains any clauses that refer to your ex-spouse, those provisions are revoked automatically. Such provisions include any appointments, nominations, and inheritances. As a practical matter, the law treats the situation as if your ex-spouse had died before you did.

Updating Your Will

You may wish to update the parts of your will that mention your spouse even before your divorce is finalized. Your estate planning attorney can help you determine if this is necessary, but if you were to die before your divorce judgment is entered, any provisions regarding your spouse will still be valid. If you named your spouse as your sole heir, for example, your entire estate would go to him or her, even though you were in the process of getting divorced.

Regardless of whether your update your will during your divorce, you will want to amend it after your divorce is finalized. Your divorce could have a major impact on your financial situation, including your overall wealth, property holdings, business interests, and more. In fact, you may need a completely revamped estate plan.

Other Considerations

It is crucial to keep in mind that the Illinois laws that revoke provisions pertaining to your spouse do not cover anyone else. For example, any inheritances or appointments intended for your stepchildren or in-laws will not be affected by the divorce. This means that if you wish to remove them from your will, you will need to do so by updating the document or creating a new one.

You may also have reasons for keeping your ex in your will. He or she may, in fact, be the most qualified person to manage your estate, or you might want to leave him or her certain property. If you draft and sign a new will that is dated after the date of your divorce decree, you can include your ex-spouse in any way you wish. Doing so also reduces the chance of confusion about your desires, which makes it less likely that another family member will challenge your will.

Call Us for Help

To learn more about how a divorce could affect your current estate plan, contact a skilled estate planning lawyer in Naperville. Call 630-756-1160 to schedule a confidential consultation at The Gierach Law Firm today.

 

Sources:

Illinois Probate Act of 1975

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