The Impact of Divorce on Your Will

divorce, estate planning, Illinois divorce attorneyThe effects of you divorce are likely to be felt throughout many aspects of your life, often for years into the future. But did you know that that your divorce could continue to affect you and your loved ones even after your death? It could if you are not careful, anyway. Following your divorce, it is important to understand how ending your marriage may impact your plans for dividing your estate.

Enduring Contracts

In certain cases, the terms of your divorce agreement may require you to keep your ex-spouse as beneficiary for certain accounts or investments as a form of security for spousal maintenance or property division purposes. More often, however, you will be free to choose new beneficiaries so that your ex-spouse does not stand to collect money or assets that should be going to another family member. It is extremely important to make such changes directly with the investment company or life insurance carrier or else the contract you signed when you opened the account or began the policy may remain in effect, and could possibly take precedence over your divorce decree.

There have been several examples in Illinois case law where an ex-spouse was never removed as a beneficiary, even despite a subsequent remarriage. The private contract between the investor and the company superseded the divorce agreement, and the court affirmed the ex-spouse’s contractual rights to the paid benefits.

Wills Are Different

Unlike a private contract, your will is handled differently following a divorce. If your will was prepared and executed prior to your divorce and includes provisions for your ex-spouse to receive some or all of your estate, the Illinois Probate Law provides an automatic remedy. In such a case, according to the law, “the will takes effect in the same manner as if the former spouse had died before the testator.” However, this means that, unless you have prepared for that eventuality, decisions regarding your estate may be ultimately left to the Probate court to interpret.

For this reason, it is important after your divorce to revisit your estate planning documents. Make sure they accurately capture your current wishes in regard to your estate. For example, you may want your ex-spouse to receive a portion of your property to be used for the well-being of your children. Unless you execute a new will subsequent to your divorce, however, the law will assume otherwise. Similarly, amending your will gives you the opportunity to add or change other beneficiaries as you see fit.

Legal Help for Divorce

With the flurry of activity and confusion that often accompanies divorce, it can be challenging to remember all of the important considerations. Fortunately, an experienced Rolling Meadows family law attorney is here to help. Schedule your free consultation at the Cosley Law Office today by calling 847-253-3100. We will meet with you to discuss your situation and help you identify and address all of the concerns necessary to effectively complete the divorce process.



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