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How Divorce Affects Your Estate Plan | Alta Estate Services

When a couple gets divorced, it’s not just their relationship that changes – their whole lives are turned upside down. And if they have an estate plan that needs to be updated. Here’s a look at how divorce can affect your estate plan and what you need to do to ensure everything is still in order.

What is an estate plan?

An estate plan is a legal document outlining how you want your property and assets to be distributed after death. It can also include provisions for how you want to be cared for if you become incapacitated.

Estate planning is vital for everyone, but it becomes especially critical if you are going through a divorce. If you die without an estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to state law, which may not align with your wishes. And, if you have minor children, it’s essential to have an estate plan in place to designate a guardian for them.

Creating an estate plan can be complex, and working with an experienced advisor is essential to ensure everything is done correctly.

The role of a prenuptial agreement

If you’re getting married, congratulations! You’re embarking on a new chapter in your life. But before you walk down the aisle, you must have a serious discussion with your fiancé about your finances. One way to do this is to sign a prenuptial agreement.

A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract that outlines how you and your spouse will handle finances during the marriage and in the event of a divorce. It can protect your assets and ensure both spouses are on the same page about financial expectations.

While some people view prenuptial agreements as unromantic, they can be an intelligent way to safeguard your future. However, suppose you’re considering signing a prenup. In that case, you must consult an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand the implications and ensure the agreement is fair and legally binding.

How divorce impacts an estate plan

If you’re going through a divorce, you’re probably not thinking about your estate plan. But you should be. Here’s why:

Estate planning is deciding what will happen to your belongings after you die. This plan includes determining who will inherit your property, how much they will get, and when they will receive it.

If you don’t have an estate plan, the state where you live will make these decisions for you.

Updating your estate plan after divorce

Estate plans usually involve making provisions for what will happen to your assets after you die. But if you divorce, your estate plan will need to be updated to reflect the change in your marital status.

It probably names your spouse as the primary beneficiary if you have a will. If you die without updating your will, your ex-spouse would still inherit your assets, even though you’re no longer married. You may not want them to inherit anything, or you may want them to inherit only certain assets.

You can update your will by adding a codicil, a legal document that amends an existing will. Or you can revoke your old will entirely and make a new one. Either way, it’s essential to consult with an attorney to ensure that your wishes are carried out correctly.

When it comes to estate planning, divorce can create a lot of complications. Therefore, it’s essential to have a plan that considers the possibility of divorce so that your assets are protected, and your wishes are carried out.

Without proper planning, divorce can lead to a division of assets that you may not be happy with, and it can also make it difficult for your ex-spouse to carry out your wishes after you’re gone.

If you’re getting divorced, or if there’s a possibility of divorce in the future, be sure to talk to an experienced estate planning advisor to protect yourself and your assets.

What Does a Divorce Decree Do to Your Estate Plan?

A divorce decree can have a significant impact on your estate plan. For example, if you have an ex-spouse, they may no longer be considered your representative. Additionally, any provisions in your last will that specifically name your ex-spouse may be revoked—as such, reviewing your estate plan after a divorce is critical to ensure that it still meets your needs.

Your Estate Plan Is A Process

An estate plan is not a one-time event. Instead, it is a process that should be revisited and updated as your life changes. This process is especially true if you experience a significant life event like divorce.

If you don’t update your will, trust, and beneficiary designations, your ex could inherit.

When you get divorced, your estate plan may need to be updated. If you don’t update your estate plan, your ex-spouse could inherit everything.

You can take steps to ensure your estate plan is up to date. First, you should update your will and update the beneficiary designation on any trusts you have. Secondly, you should update the beneficiary designations on all of your accounts.

If you take these steps, you can ensure that your ex does not inherit anything from you.

Revocable Trusts

A revocable trust is a legal arrangement in which someone (the trustee) holds property or assets for another person (the beneficiary). This trust can be revoked or changed by the person who created it at any time and for any reason.

There are many reasons why someone might create a revocable trust. For example, they may want to protect their assets from creditors or ensure that their former spouse does not receive any of their assets in the event of a divorce.

Once a divorce is finalized, it may not be possible to change the terms of a trust. Therefore, it is essential to consult with an attorney before creating a trust to ensure that it meets your needs and objectives.

Updating Your Estate Plan During Divorce Proceedings in Arizona

Updating your estate plan if you are going through a divorce in Arizona is crucial. This process will ensure that your assets are protected and that your wishes are carried out. You may need to revoke your previous estate plan and create a new one. You may also need to change your beneficiaries and powers of attorney. Taking these steps will ensure that your ex-spouse will not be able to access your assets or make decisions on your behalf.

Update Beneficiary Designations

If you have a life insurance policy or retirement account, you’ll want to update your beneficiary designations to reflect your current circumstances. This update is critical if you’ve gone through a divorce, as your former spouse is still considered the beneficiary on these accounts unless you take action to revoke their designation. For example, your divorce decree may specify that your former spouse is no longer the beneficiary. However, you’ll still need to update your beneficiaries with the life insurance company or retirement plan administrator.


If you have trust, it’s essential to keep it up to date. If you get divorced, you’ll need to revoke your former spouse’s access to the trust, and if you have a revocable trust, you’ll need to amend it according to your divorce decree. If you don’t update your trust, your ex-spouse could still have access to your assets in the trust. Therefore, updating your trust is an essential part of your estate plan and can help ensure that your assets are protected in the event of a divorce.

Mark L. Fishbein, Estate Planner Tucson AZ, Asset Protection PlanningFeel free to call the ALTA Estate Services, LLC office at (520) 797-1400 to learn more about proper and complete estate planning, including the Emergency Telephone Hotline Program afforded to you and your family members at no charge during times of crisis and the other benefits of estate planning described above. Mark Fishbein, Tucson AZ.

The text above is for general informational purposes only, and should not be considered legal advice. For more information, click Contact Us.

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