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What effect will divorce have on your will?

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2022 | Uncategorized |

When you’re going through a divorce, you’ll have a lot on your mind. You’re going to have to deal with important issues like child custody and support and property division. So it’s natural that consideration of how the divorce will impact your estate planning may not be your greatest priority. But it does have an impact.

Revocation upon divorce

When two people marry, and one of them executes a will, it’s common practice to name their spouse as beneficiary – leaving some or all of their assets to that spouse. It’s also common to name that spouse as executor of the estate. But what happens if they divorce? What if you no longer want your ex-spouse to act as either beneficiary or executor but you forget to change the will?

Fortunately, Indiana anticipates this problem and has a law in place to deal with it. Indiana Code Section 29-1-5-8 provides that, when a divorce becomes final, any provision in a will that designated a spouse as beneficiary or executor is automatically revoked. This law only impacts provisions in the will that implicate the former spouse – it does not affect the validity of the will as a whole.

Should you update your will anyway?

The short answer is yes, you should, despite the automatic revocation. Some individuals may choose to retain their ex-spouse as a beneficiary or executor. If so, the will must be re-executed after the divorce is final, to overcome the automatic revocation.

Furthermore, even if the effect of the automatic revocation is what you want, it still leaves a hole in your will. If you do not revise your will, what assets you designated to your ex-spouse will now be distributed as though you had died intestate.