Divorce is already complicated and tiring as it is. Thinking about doing even more paperwork during a stressful time in your life may not sound appealing. But your divorce will have an effect on your estate plan if you are not prepared.
Making sure everything is accounted for can mean no ambiguities, no future disputes, and no one left behind. Our experienced attorneys at Diamond Estate Planning Law know how to make the process run as smoothly as possible while making sure your Illinois estate plan is ready for the long term.
Read on to learn more about what to expect after a divorce.
Anything meant for your spouse is revoked in Illinois
Once a divorce is finalized, your former spouse is taken out of some parts of your estate plan. When it comes to these parts of your estate plan, Illinois acts as though your ex-spouse died before you.
Your former spouse is automatically taken out of your:
- Power of attorney for medical decisions;
- Power of attorney for financial decisions; and
- Is no longer the executor of your estate.
However, this doesn’t mean that your entire will is voided.
Only the clauses giving your ex-spouse legal responsibilities or making them a beneficiary will be revoked. Because of this, there can be some ambiguities for the future if you don’t update your will after your divorce.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you don’t want your former spouse to get your life insurance proceeds or retirement accounts, make sure to remove them as a beneficiary. The finalization of your divorce may not automatically remove your spouse from some of these types of accounts.
Your Illinois will is not automatically updated
Unfortunately, although your divorce may be finalized, your will and estate plan will need some revamping. If left alone, disputes could rise about filling in the blanks.
Here are a few examples of things you will have to update on your will or estate plan as a result of your divorce:
- If you have adult children, you may want to assign power of attorney to one of them.
- You may want another trusted family member to handle your financial decisions if you are incapacitated in the future.
- You may have to redistribute your estate so everything is accounted for and divided how you truly want.
- You may need to update the distribution of things when you pass to make sure you comply with any continuing obligations of your divorce decree.
In some cases, divorce doesn’t mean cutting ties completely.
You may end on friendly terms and still want your ex-spouse to be, say, the executor of your estate. In that case, you should make sure to act as soon as possible. Illinois law automatically removes your ex-spouse from some parts of your estate, so if your intent is to keep them involved you should update your estate plan as soon as possible after your divorce is finalized..
Declaring your intent while divorcing helps
According to Illinois law, removing your ex-spouse from your estate plan takes into effect when the divorce is finalized, not during the process.
Divorce proceedings can take a long time, and if you pass away during the process, your intended ex-spouse stays on the estate just as if you were to stay married.
Depending on the outcome you want, you should consider declaring your intent while in the process of divorce. That way the court will know your wishes and try to honor them even if your estate plan is not updated.
The important thing is that you sit down with your estate planning attorney during your divorce process, and make sure that your estate plan accurately reflects your wishes.
Contact our dedicated attorneys at Diamond Estate Planning Law
Divorce, will changes, estate plan updates – it can all feel like it’s starting to pile up. But we know how these things can affect people’s lives so you can trust we’ll work to reflect your wishes. Our team at Diamond Estate Planning Law has decades of experience helping Illinois families get their affairs in order. We have the knowledge and dedication to make sure your estate plan stands the test of time. Contact us today.
DISCLAIMER: Any information contained herein is solely for informational purposes and is only applicable in the state of Illinois. While it is important that you educate yourself, nothing herein should be construed as legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. For specific questions, we urge you to contact a local attorney for advice pertaining to your specific legal needs.