Divorce or remarriage should trigger an estate plan review


An estate plan is not something that should be prepared once and then locked away, not to be seen again until a person passes away. As we discussed in a recent post, everyone with an existing estate plan should review it every few years to make sure it still addresses their needs. It should also be reviewed and updated after certain major life events - including divorce and remarriage.


Under California law, a divorce automatically revokes any provision in a will or trust that leaves property to the former spouse, unless the will or trust specifically says otherwise. Nonetheless, one should still review one's estate plan after divorce because to make sure it still reflects their wishes and priorities.

If one remarries after divorce or the death of a spouse, an estate plan review is critical. Wills and trusts should be updated to reflect the new family situation. It is also important to review beneficiary designations on insurance policies and retirement plans. Similarly, it is important to make sure real estate is retitled to cut ties to the former spouse.

Powers of attorney and health care directives are important parts of any California estate plan. Upon divorce or remarriage, these should be reviewed and any appointment of the former spouse as attorney-in-fact or health care agent should be changed.

Many people in California choose a revocable trust as their estate planning vehicle. Trusts can be drafted so that when one dies, the new spouse is taken care of for life but the children from a previous marriage ultimately inherit the assets.

Source: CNBC.com, "Remarrying? Update your estate plan," Kelli B. Grant, Oct. 14, 2016

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