Garton & Harris

How should individuals update their wills following a divorce?

When marriages end, there are many short-term and long-term legal, financial, and logistical considerations. One significant thing British Columbia divorcees should consider is how the divorce will impact their estate plans. Spouses have significant roles and entitlements when it comes to their partner's plans for incapacity or death. As such, it is important to revisit wills when a marriage is in the process of ending.

There are many documents in which a spouse may be named beneficiary. Individuals should review the names on bank accounts, insurance policies and trusts and make adjustments if needed. In addition, it is important to visit one's estate lawyer to review the power of attorney documents and the will to see if and where the spouse is explicitly named. While some aspects of plans may be automatically invalidated upon divorce, it's wise to avoid any outdated language in the official will to prevent plans being called into question.

Trusts are a different matter altogether. In fact, most trusts will be considered in the divorce agreement, and decisions about what will happen to them may be made at that time. An ex-spouse may therefore still become the beneficiary of an irrevocable trust, depending on the circumstances and agreement.

There are many planning decisions that may need to be revisited upon divorce. Who will be the executor of the estate? Should a former spouse still receive some money, particularly if there are minor children involved? A British Columbia lawyer can help to clarify these estate and family law issues, and revise wills accordingly.

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