If you live in Greensboro, North Carolina and have recently gone through a divorce, or are considering getting a divorce, it’s important for you to take the time to think about how your divorce will affect your estate plan. Divorces are a stressful time, and regardless of how attentive you have been to your estate plan in the past, most people forget to think about updating their plans after their divorce.
In many situations, people who get a divorce won’t even think about how the divorce affects their estate plans until well after the court issues the divorce decree.
This is especially true for couples who have been married for a long time and are used to thinking about their property as a function of “ours” instead of “mine.”
A divorce is a significant change in your circumstances, and one that requires you to completely reevaluate your estate plan. Your estate planning attorney can help guide you through the process of rebuilding your plan after you’ve gone through a divorce, but here are some issues you will want to think about.
Under North Carolina law, all spouses are entitled to legally inherit from another upon the other’s death. Once you get a divorce, however, your ex-spouse no longer has that inheritance right.
Unfortunately, most married people make their estate plans assuming that their spouses will inherit at least a portion of their property.
For this reason, anyone getting a divorce who has already created a last will and testament will need to revoke those documents and create a new will. Revoking a will can be as simple as physically destroying the actual document, such as by shredding it or tearing it up, though you can also revoke it by including a revocation clause in your new will.
Once the divorce is all said and done, both you and your former spouse will have divided all of the property you owned in your marriage. This means that instead of being joint owners of, for example, your home, one of you will be the sole owner. This holds true for all the other property you own as well.
Because of this, the estate plan you created while you were married is not going to be something you can rely upon any more. When you created your old plan, you did so with the assumption that you and your former spouse owned most, if not all, of your property jointly. Now that you and your former spouse have divided the property between you, each of you is now the joined owner of the property you received in the divorce. You will now have to create a new estate plan based on this new ownership.