Tag: ex-spouse

Does Divorce Invalidate Gifts to Your Ex-Spouse in Your Will?

When you get divorced, you may wonder if the divorce decree invalidates gifts to your ex-spouse made in your will. In Illinois, a divorce nullifies any language in your will that makes your ex-spouse an heir.

Effect of Divorce on Gifts

The effect of divorce on gifts varies somewhat from state to state. The type of gift matters too. In Illinois, any gifts made to an ex-spouse in a will signed before the divorce cannot be enforced. The ex-spouse will not inherit no matter what.

It does not matter how specific the will’s language is – all gifts to ex-spouses are not valid. It also does not matter when the will was made. In one legal case, the testator signed his will long before his marriage when he decided to leave his estate to his friend. Later, he married the friend, and then they got divorced. The court found that his gift to his ex-wife was not valid, regardless of the fact that he made the will before the marriage and before the divorce.

However, the rule is different for life insurance policies in Illinois. There is no Illinois law that removes your ex-spouse as beneficiary of your life insurance policies. The reasoning is that if you wanted to change the beneficiary, you could have done so. As a result, you must review your life insurance after divorce. If your ex-spouse is the beneficiary and you do not want him or her to receive the proceeds, then update your beneficiary designation.

Updating Your Will After Divorce

Because of the effect of divorce on testamentary gifts in Illinois, you must update your will after a divorce. If you do not update the will, then the probate court will simply disregard a gift to your ex-spouse and distribute the estate to your other heirs. This may have a result that you did not intend. Updating your will is the best way to have peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out.

If you still want to leave property to your ex-spouse (perhaps you are on friendly terms, or he or she needs support), then you can. First, make sure the will is dated after the date of the final divorce decree. Also, you should consult a wills and trusts lawyer to ensure that the will includes appropriate language about the gift to your ex-spouse.

Want to start planning your estate? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

Updating Your Estate Plan After Divorce

After a divorce, your estate plan is probably not the first thing on your mind. But making changes to the plan could be extremely important to provide peace of mind that your wishes for the future will be carried out.

How Does a Divorce Impact Your Estate Plan?

During marriage, most people tend to leave a portion of their assets to their spouse and any children from the marriage. After a divorce, those wishes may change substantially. Some choose to disinherit their ex-spouses, while others want to reduce the inheritance amount. If you are paying child support, you may anticipate not having much money to spare in the future.

If you do not make any changes to your plan, then your ex-spouse might receive a portion of your assets in a way that you did not intend. Even when laws say that a divorce voids gifts to an ex-spouse made in a will signed before the divorce, other estate planning devices still could apply. For example, you might have designated your ex-spouse as the beneficiary of a trust or a life insurance policy. The only way to disinherit him or her is by changing the beneficiary designation.

Making Changes to Your Estate Plan

Once you decide that you need to make changes to your estate plan due to divorce, seek out legal advice. An estate planning lawyer can review your entire plan and determine which parts you need to modify. Often, you must sign a new will and sign quite a few other papers to make the adjustments. Be sure to mention any powers of attorney, retirement accounts, or other structures you have used to the lawyer. You might not realize that they need changes too.

As you discuss the new estate plan, you will need to consider how to redistribute money that you might have given to your spouse in the past. Perhaps you would like to give to charity or save for your children’s college funds. Estate planning devices such as trusts, life insurance, or 529 plans can help you accomplish your new goals.

Finally, remember that you should continue to update your estate plan after many major life changes. You may remarry, move to a different state or country, have children, lose a family member, or inherit money. All of these events are good reasons to review your plan again.

Want to update your estate plan? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

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