Does divorce affect a will?

Your finalized divorce brings many changes to your life and end-of-life plans. The answer to “Does divorce affect a will?” is a resounding “Yes.” A divorce revokes your spouse’s standing in your will. To implement new end-of-life plans, seek help from a Fairfax wills and trusts attorney from Select Law Partners PLLC. We’ll help you get your plans in order and put your mind at ease so you can move forward.

divorce affect a will

Does my will automatically change if I get divorced?

What happens to your will following a divorce or annulment in Virginia is outlined under Virginia Law 64.2-412. The divorce or annulment “revokes any disposition or appointment of property made by the will to the former spouse.” In other words, anything previously left to or that would go to your spouse, according to normal probate law, no longer does. Instead, your secondary beneficiaries, if included, would receive your assets.

Further, any powers afforded to your former spouse are revoked unless your will specifically expresses otherwise. For example, if they were listed as the executor of your will or a trustee in your trust, these designations will be removed, and you’ll need to name new individuals in those roles.

This revocation of beneficiary privileges can extend to other written contracts providing the former spouse with death benefits under Virginia Code 20.111.1, including:

  • Life insurance contracts
  • Annuities
  • Retirement arrangements

However, the code also establishes that ex-spouses remain beneficiaries of plans governed by federal law, such as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Your ex-spouse could still receive your 401K or pension plan payments despite Virginia’s revocation law. Your attorney will review these plans to confirm your beneficiaries reflect your wishes.

What should I do with my “old” will?

You could shred or burn the will. Or, when creating a new will, you can include a statement saying you revoke all prior wills. Virginia Law already revokes your ex’s status as beneficiary, but including the statement ensures the most current will is right, preventing any other potential disputes.

What should I include in my new will?

Creating a new will is an important step following a divorce, and you should meet with a Fairfax wills and trusts attorney from Select Law Partners PLLC as soon as possible to implement your plans. Your updated will should establish your executor and how you wish to distribute assets.

If you have children or other dependents, the new will should state who becomes their legal guardian if you die. If you are the custodial parent and share children with your ex-spouse, your ex will get custody of the kids unless the courts have deemed your ex unfit. Plan for every scenario, including guardianship in the event your ex passes away.

You may also want to create a revocable living trust. Your minor children can be listed as beneficiaries, and you can exclude your ex from controlling those assets. Your attorney can explain the pros and cons of creating a trust and offer advice specific to your situation.

Let’s get your plans in order

Finalizing a divorce is a major step in preparing for the next chapter of your life, and part of the process is updating your will. You need a legal plan to protect your assets and guarantee they will go into the right hands.

A Fairfax wills and trusts attorney from Select Law Partners PLLC can efficiently and thoroughly guide you through the necessary actions to protect your interests. Count on us for trustworthy advice and attention to every detail. Contact us electronically or by phone at (855) 541-4867.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Click here for full disclaimer or view our Privacy Policy

Main Offices:

910 Littlepage Street
Suite A
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Hours: M-Th 9a-5p, Fr 9a-1p

4085 Chain Bridge Road
Suite 300
Fairfax, VA 22030
Hours: M-Th 9a-5p, Fr 9a-1p

© Select Law Partners, PLLC. All rights reserved.