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Estate Planning after a Divorce: What You Need to Know

Divorce significantly affects your estate plan. Therefore, it’s crucial to take timely action to revise it. If you’re going through a divorce or have recently finalized one, it may be time to review and update your estate plan.
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attorney Christina Brengel, estate planning attorney

By: Christina Brengel

Christina Stroyick Brengel is an attorney with a strong dedication and passion for serving her clients.

Divorce is a life-altering event that significantly impacts various aspects of life, including your estate plan. Clients either going through a divorce or who have recently finalized one often feel uncertain about how the divorce will affect their estate. This article shares crucial aspects of revising your estate plan after a divorce, ensuring that your assets and loved ones are protected according to your current wishes.

How Does Divorce Affect Your Estate Plan?

When you get divorced, updating your estate plan is imperative.  If your estate plan was done with the mindset of a married person, it is likely that at least some of your preferences will change during or after a divorce.  Additionally, the assets that are a part of your estate will likely change after a divorce, which may impact your desired distributions.  Revising your estate plan ensures that your assets are distributed according to your updated preferences.

Why Update Your Beneficiary Designations?

Beneficiary designations are often overlooked during estate planning after divorce. It’s crucial to revise these as your ex-spouse might still be listed as a beneficiary on life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other financial instruments.  Updating these designations is a simple yet essential step in ensuring that your estate is distributed according to your current wishes.

Should You Revoke Your Power of Attorney?

Revoking your power of attorney is a critical step even before the divorce is finalized.  Your spouse may be able to make financial and care decisions on your behalf.  If you are in the process of a divorce, you likely do not want your spouse making decisions for you.  It’s advisable to appoint someone you trust to handle these matters, ensuring that your affairs are managed according to your current preferences.

What About Your Living Trust?

If you have a joint living trust, you need to split it into two separate living trusts.  Your ex-spouse is likely named as a trustee or beneficiary if you have a living trust.  Post-divorce, you need to revise this document to reflect your current wishes.  This might include appointing a new trustee or changing the beneficiaries.  Even if you desire to keep your ex-spouse as a beneficiary or trustee, that should be restated after the divorce.

Is It Necessary to Update Your Will?

Usually.  Updating your will is essential after a divorce. Your ex-spouse may still be named as the executor or beneficiary.  Although in Texas, an ex-spouse would be presumed to have predeceased you after a divorce, your change in circumstances could impact multiple areas of your will.  Again, it is wise to change your will even before the divorce is finalized.  If you pass away unexpectedly before your divorce is final and your spouse is named as an executor or beneficiary, those designations will stand.  By revising your will, you can ensure that your estate is administered by someone you trust and that your assets are distributed according to your latest intentions.

How to Handle Guardianship Designations?

If you have minor children, your estate plan probably includes guardianship designations. Post-divorce, reassess these choices. You might want to name someone other than your prior choice as the guardian, ensuring that your children’s care aligns with your current wishes.

What Happens If You Don’t Update Your Estate Plan in Sugar Land, Texas?

Failing to update your estate plan during or post-divorce can have unintended consequences.  Your spouse might still inherit your assets, make decisions on your behalf, or even handle your financial affairs when you would not otherwise want them to do so.  Revising your estate plan to reflect your current circumstances and ensuring that your wishes are honored is crucial.

Considering State Law and Divorce Decrees

State law and the terms of your divorce decree can impact your estate plan. Understanding these implications and ensuring that your estate plan complies with legal requirements is important.  An experienced estate planning attorney can provide valuable insights and guidance.

When Should You Start Updating Your Estate Plan?

Don’t wait until the divorce is finalized. Start updating your estate plan as soon as the divorce is pending. This proactive approach ensures that your interests are protected throughout the divorce process.


Divorce significantly affects your estate plan, and it’s crucial to take timely action to revise it.  If you’re going through a divorce or have recently finalized one, contact our law firm to schedule a consultation and update your estate plan.

Key Points to Remember

  • Revise Beneficiary Designations: Ensure that your ex-spouse is not the unintended beneficiary of your assets.
  • Update Power of Attorney and Trusts: Appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf and manage your trust.
  • Revise Your Will: Reflect your current wishes for asset distribution and executor appointments.
  • Consider Guardianship for Minor Children: Choose a guardian aligning with your current preferences.
  • Understand Legal Implications: Be aware of how state law and divorce decrees impact your estate plan.
  • Begin Updates Early: Revise your estate plan as soon as divorce proceedings begin.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: Consult an estate planning attorney to navigate these changes effectively.

Remember, updating your estate plan post-divorce is not just a legal necessity; ensuring that your assets and loved ones are protected according to your current wishes is crucial. Don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance to navigate this complex process.

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