If a Will is written and your name is specifically listed as “spouse” and/or “wife” as beneficiary, if you are no longer married what happens?

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If a Will is written and your name is specifically listed as “spouse” and/or “wife” as beneficiary, if you are no longer married what happens?

Asked on March 18, 2012 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

Catherine Taylor / Broadbent & Taylor

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The laws vary on this issue from state to state. Many states, however, provide that if a former spouse remains named as the spouse/beneficiary in the decedent's will, then that former spouse will be treated as pre-deceased, meaning you would not inherit anything. That being said, it is always advisable to redo all of your estate planning documents upon the occurrence of any major life event, such as divorce. Good luck.

Louis Putney / Louis D. Putney Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

For estates governed by Florida Law, unless the will expresses a contrary intent, the ex-spouse is considered to have predeceased the decedent, and the provisions of the will are then carried out assuming that the spouse was not surviving. This is general information not intended as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been established. Louis D. Putney is licensed in the State of Florida and practices Estate planning, probate and trust law, and related litigation.

Patrick Burke

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

EPTL 5-1.4

Revocatory effect of divorce

(a) Except as provided by the express terms of a governing instrument, a divorce (including a judicial separation as defined in subparagraph (f)(2)) or annulment of a marriage revokes any revocable

(1) disposition or appointment of property made by a divorced individual to, or for the benefit of, the former spouse, including, but not limited to, a disposition or appointment by will, by security registration in beneficiary form (TOD), by beneficiary designation in a life insurance policy or (to the extent permitted by law) in a pension or retirement benefits plan, or by revocable trust, including a bank account in trust form,

(2) provision conferring a power or power of disposition on the former spouse, and

(3) nomination of the former spouse to serve in any fiduciary or representative capacity, including as a personal representative, executor, trustee, conservator, guardian, agent, or attorney-in-fact.


(b)(1) Provisions of a governing instrument are given effect as if the former spouse had predeceased the divorced individual as of the time of the revocation.

(2) A disposition, appointment, provision, or nomination revoked solely by this section shall be revived by the divorced individual's remarriage to the former spouse.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is my understanding that under Texas law the provision is read as if the spouse pre deceased the testatator so no, the wife or spouse will not inherit.  Be casreful, though, upon remarriage.  It is always best to redo the Will upon divorce.  Good luck.


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