Family Law and Estate Planning Basics: How a Divorce Affects Your Estate Plans

A lot changes when you get divorced. From moving out of your marital home to figuring out child support and visitation, many big, life-changing decisions need to be made. One thing that people don’t often think of right away is how their divorce will affect their estate plan. When couples are married and plan out their estates, it’s common for them to create a plan that takes the marriage into consideration, or combining their separate estates into one.

So what do you need to revisit upon getting divorced? Below we discuss some of the main changes and things to do regarding your estate plan after divorce.

  • Divorce revokes part of your Will

When you get divorced, some parts of your Will may automatically be revoked. For example, if you name your ex-spouse as executor or beneficiary of your estate while you were married, then you will have to revisit and edit your Will to change who will take their place. Many couples also create joint Wills with their spouses. In these situations the probate court usually ignores any language relating to your ex-spouse and essentially treats them as having died before you. To avoid any problems for your estate, its very important to revisit your Will right away and either revise it, or revoke it and make a new one.

  • Review your life insurance and other policies

Oftentimes life insurance and other policies require you to name your spouse as beneficiary. When you get divorced, your ex-spouse still has a claim to such policies in Illinois. This applies to bank accounts and IRAs. You will have to make sure that you make the change and inform your insurance company of the change so that the right person is named as a new beneficiary for your life insurance, retirement, or any other policy.

  • Rename guardians

When you get divorced, it’s often necessary to have to go back and rename who will be the guardian of your minor children should something happen to you. Although you might assume that your ex-spouse would automatically take over, this isn’t always the case. It’s important for you to express wishes that minor children maintain relationships with your family (e.g. their grandparents, uncles/aunts, siblings from new or other relationships, etc.). It’s better to revisit this and to make sure it’s legally enforceable as soon as possible.

Also, while hopefully the reason for your divorce had nothing to do with your ex-spouse’s inability to parent your children, sometimes this is sadly the case. In these situations it is important revisit the portion of your estate that relates to your children, and make the proper revisions to ensure that your minor children will be properly looked after.

  • Review any Trust documents

Like a Will, Trust documents will also need to be reviewed and revised to take into account the changes to your estate. There are several new and different complications that arise because unlike a Will, Trusts can take effect while you are still living. It’s for this reason, among others, that you will need to take action and revisit all Trust documents you created during your marriage.

Divorce is tough. Not only is the process itself stressful and expensive, but figuring out what happens next can be just as difficult to handle. At Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC, we handle both Illinois family law and estate planning. We can help you during your divorce process, as well as guide you through what needs to change in your estate plan. Don’t let the stress of your divorce overwhelm you—let us help you with any problems that arise both during your divorce, and after it. Contact Lake Cook Legal Solutions today!

Written by Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC

Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC

Lake Cook Legal Solutions has been helping people throughout Lake, Cook, McHenry, and DuPage counties since 2012. We focus our practice on matters involving Illinois families—namely Family Law and Estate Planning.