When Should You Revise Your Will?
If you have already prepared a last will and testament, you’ve made a smart decision. No one knows what tomorrow may bring, so if you have not prepared your will, now is the time to contact a Texas estate planning attorney and begin the last will and testament process.
Some may ask, what happens if you get divorced after your will has already been prepared? Will your ex-spouse still have the right to inherit any of your properties or assets? What does the law in Texas require regarding wills, and how will a Texas estate planning lawyer help you?
If you’ll continue to read this brief discussion of wills and divorce, you will find the answers you may be seeking, but if it’s time to revise your will, or if you have not prepared a will, you should also contact an estate planning attorney promptly for the personalized help and advice you need.
What Does Texas Law Say About Wills and Divorce?
Under Texas estate laws, finalizing an annulment or a divorce automatically nullifies any provision of your will that mentions an ex-spouse.
If your ex-spouse is named as a beneficiary or as executor of your estate, these provisions are nullified when your divorce is final. If you named your ex as trustee of a trust created for your children, that designation will also be nullified. Updating a will after a divorce is essential.
Because the law in Texas nullifies any provision of your will that mentions an ex-spouse, if your will leaves property or assets to a former spouse, and you do not revise the will, who inherits those properties or assets?
If Your Will Isn’t Revised After Your Divorce
In this situation, if you do not revise your will once the divorce is final, properties and assets originally intended for your former spouse will pass to the next beneficiary, just as if that ex-spouse had died while you were married.
If an alternate beneficiary is named, that person receives any properties and assets that were originally intended for your ex-spouse. If no alternate is named, but your will designates a “residuary beneficiary,” that beneficiary inherits those properties and assets.
If there is no residuary beneficiary, under Texas law, the properties and assets go to the nearest surviving relatives, as if no will had been in place. If you want a different party to inherit the properties and assets that would have gone to your ex, you must revise your will after a divorce.
After Divorce, Are There Other Reasons to Revise Your Will?
There are several other reasons why you need to revise your will after a divorce:
- Revising your last will and testament after your divorce ensures that the inheritance you are leaving for your children will be legally protected.
- Because all of your will’s provisions regarding your former spouse are nullified by divorce, you may need to name another executor of your estate as well as a new trustee for any trust you have prepared.
- After a divorce, you may also choose to name other beneficiaries or remove current beneficiaries. It is important for your will to express your current desires and instructions.
- If you do not revise your will after your divorce, it may be challenged by your ex or by someone else in your family. A careful revision of your will reduces any possibility of a challenge and ensures that your instructions and wishes will be honored.
What Does Revising Your Will Entail?
After a divorce, here’s what revising your will entails:
- Review your current will to determine what sections or provisions should be changed.
- Contact an estate planning lawyer who will help you create a new will or an amendment (called a “codicil”) to your existing will. Your lawyer will make sure that the document is fully in compliance with Texas state law.
- Sign the new codicil or will in front of two or more disinterested witnesses who are 14 years of age or older.
- Finally, you will need to store the document securely, and you’ll need to make sure that your executor and other key people can find and access your will when that time comes.
Have You Prepared Your Will?
The future is uncertain, so it is never too early – or too late – to prepare your last will and testament with guidance from a Texas estate planning attorney. You do not have to wait until your divorce is finalized to reach out to an estate planning attorney. The divorce process can be a difficult and often overwhelming time. An estate planning attorney can assist you during this period to ensure that your assets will go to the right people.
Your last will and testament does more than merely name the beneficiary or beneficiaries who will inherit your estate.
If you are a parent, you may also name a guardian for your minor child or children as part of your estate plan. In the worst-case scenario, if you don’t name a guardian, your children’s custody could be decided by a court.
Your will also should name an executor for your estate, a person you trust fully to manage your affairs after your death. A last will and testament ensures that your instructions and wishes will be honored. Without a trust or a will, a court determines what happens to your estate.
Which Estate Planning Lawyer Should You Choose?
Whether your finances are affluent or modest, it’s important to ensure that your family will be provided for when you’re gone. If you own a business, if you own properties and/or assets, or if you have a family, it’s a good idea to prepare a last will and testament as quickly as possible.
A Texas estate planning lawyer at Mike Massey Law will help you prepare – or revise – a last will and testament that clearly expresses your wishes and spells out your instructions. When you choose Mike Massey Law, you will be personally working with a lawyer who can:
- prepare (or revise) the will or trust that you and your loved ones need
- establish a comprehensive estate plan for you and your family
- guide your loved ones through probate when that time comes
- defend your will against legal challenges
To find out more about preparing wills and estate plans, or to begin preparing your will right away, call the offices of Mike Massey Law now. We’re located in Houston (at 713-489-7360) and in Austin (at 512-400-4430), and our team of lawyers is ready to help you plan for the future.