The Importance of Updating Your Estate Plan After A Divorce

Revising your estate plan isn’t usually the first thing on your mind during a divorce. You’ll worry more about how marital property will be divided, how you will share custody, and whether spousal support will be part of the divorce settlement agreement. However, without making the necessary changes to your estate plan, your spouse could remain the beneficiary of your will and a fiduciary under your trust or power of attorney arrangement, resulting in unwanted consequences.


When you divorce your spouse, their inheritance will be voided under New York state law unless you agree otherwise, and their share will be distributed to your other heirs. However, this doesn’t mean you should wait until later to change your will. If you die before the divorce, your will is likely to be probated and your spouse can still inherit, so make the necessary changes once the divorce is a certainty.


As with wills, New York law automatically removes your former spouse as trustee, executor, agent, guardian, representative, or attorney-in-fact after the divorce, but not before. If your estate plan includes a revocable trust, contact a New York estate planning attorney for guidance on removing your former spouse and appointing a new trustee.

Powers of Attorney

As with wills, New York law voids your spouse’s role as power of attorney once the divorce is finalized. Nonetheless, if you become incapacitated by illness or injury before your divorce is final, your spouse will be able to make financial or healthcare decisions on your behalf. You should immediately revoke their status as your agent and authorize someone else to act for you.

Life Insurance

When you divorce, your spouse will no longer be treated as a beneficiary on your life insurance, allowing the proceeds to go to alternate beneficiaries. Nevertheless, if you pass away during the divorce process and these benefits become payable, your spouse can still receive them, so it’s better to be proactive than wait.

Preparing for Divorce? Get Help With Your New York Estate Plan Today.

Divorce preparation requires you to consider your current estate plan, asset inventories, and financial accounts. Failure to update the plan can result in far-reaching consequences, so make arrangements to meet with a New York estate planning attorney as soon as possible.

If you’re facing divorce and have concerns about your estate plan, contact the skilled lawyers at Drucker & Mattia, PLLC. In addition to helping you through the legalities of a New York divorce, we can review and update your plan to reflect your changed circumstances. If the unexpected happens, you can rest assured that someone will handle your estate according to your wishes.

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