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Updating your Texas estate plan as you divorce – when and how

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2024 | Estate Planning |

If divorce is on the horizon this year, don’t forget to review your estate plan and determine what changes need to be made as you move forward. It’s also important to understand how to approach timing of these changes.

Some modifications can be made prior to the final divorce decree – or even before filing for divorce, if you choose. For example, if your spouse is your health care agent with power of attorney (POA) authority to speak to your medical team and direct your medical care if you’re not able to, you can remove them from that position and choose someone else at any time if you no longer feel comfortable with your soon-to-be ex having that authority.

Can you disinherit your spouse?

You can’t completely disinherit your spouse in Texas while you’re still legally married. Once your divorce is final, however, under Texas probate law, an ex-spouse is treated the same as a deceased one for purposes of inheritance. Specifically, “all provisions in the will, including all fiduciary appointments, shall be read as if the former spouse and each relative of the former spouse who is not a relative of the testator had failed to survive the testator….”

You’ll likely still want to make modifications to your will and possibly other documents to designate whom you want to inherit the assets you previously were leaving your spouse, though. It’s generally best to wait until the property division portion of the divorce is final and you know what assets each of you is keeping.

The terms of your divorce may affect your estate planning

You’ll also want to review any accounts and insurance policies on which you’ve listed your spouse as a beneficiary and designate new beneficiaries if you choose. These are indirectly part of your estate planning. Your divorce agreement, however, may require you to keep them as the beneficiary on some accounts. For example, if you’re paying spousal support, you may need to list your ex as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy.

It’s a lot to think about at a time when you likely feel overwhelmed. That’s why it’s wise to have estate planning guidance during and after your divorce in addition to your divorce representation.