Wills are not necessarily permanent and may need revised after major life events such as having children, moving out of state and divorce. Your former spouse may receive your assets if you do not change your will after divorce.
Your estate planning should address many issues after divorce but wills are an important matter that requires prompt attention. While Nevada law may restrict some of an ex-spouse’s rights, you should change your will to assure that your assets do not go to unintended beneficiaries.
Typically, a spouse is the exclusive heir in a will if they survive their deceased spouse. It is important to remove them as a beneficiary and replace that spouse with a new beneficiary such as your children, relative or friend.
Wills do not govern certain accounts and assets. These usually include insurance policies and retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts. You must also review these beneficiaries periodically and make changes.
Wills should also be revised to address any property gained or lost during divorce. Any property specifically addressed in your will may be impacted by divorce.
An executor administers your estate. If you do not want your former spouse to administer your estate, you should also change executors. You also need to review successor executors to assure that your former spouse’s relatives or friends no longer have these duties.
You should update your will to appoint a guardian if you and your former spouse die or cannot raise your children. In all likelihood, your ex-spouse will take care of your children if you die.
If you believe your former spouse is an unfit parent, you should document it in your will. Child abuse, incarceration or addiction are possible grounds for unfitness.
What to do
Although you can update your will with a codicil, writing a new will is preferable because of all the changes you will likely make concerning beneficiaries, executors and passing on property.
Generally, you can change your will or estate plan at any time even before the divorce is final. Some changes may require notice to your soon-to-be former spouse and filing documents with the court. In some cases, that spouse may challenge any changes.
An attorney may assist you with your estate planning. Lawyers can prepare a will that meets your specific needs and complies with Nevada law.