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Could a former spouse get estate assets?

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2022 | Estate Planning

After a divorce, it is extremely unlikely that someone will want to leave his or her former spouse assets or money after passing away. Most Texas adults want to change their beneficiary designations and remove former partners from estate plans as soon as possible to avoid this possibility. Failure to update estate plans and make necessary changes could result in the wrong individuals having access to valuable property, accounts and money.  

An avoidable estate planning mistake 

Important life changes, such as a divorce, necessitate prompt changes to an estate plan. One critical step is to update an existing will, removing or adding individuals who should receive property. After this, it is prudent to update beneficiary designations on certain accounts, such as life insurance accounts, in order to ensure the right people have access to these funds. 

Inadvertently leaving money to a former spouse could lead to complications for others left behind. Family members, heirs and other interested parties could be left facing a complicated legal battle after learning that a former spouse stands to inherit property from the deceased’s estate. Simple steps, including updating an estate plan as soon as possible after a divorce, can help avoid these problems. 

What changes are necessary? 

Major life changes necessitate changes to an existing estate plan. It may be helpful for a Texas adult to seek the counsel of an estate planning attorney in order to learn what changes or additions will be necessary for his or her plans. Although Texas laws typically void beneficiary designations following a divorce, those laws do not apply to retirement plans under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). It is critical to act quickly to make changes, create a plan or add important documents as needed after a divorce, remarriage or other major life events.  

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