Divorce in California involves many different steps and the process can be complex. By the time your divorce is final, you may breathe a sigh of relief, happy that you can finally move on with your life as a single person.
However, there are some loose ends that should be taken care of post-divorce, to prevent future complications that could bring you and your ex-spouse back into each other’s lives.
Once your divorce is final, you should review and update your estate plan. An estate plan can include various things, such as a will, trust or power of attorney, but one of the most common estate planning documents people have is a will.
Updating your will is not a requirement
Although there is no legal requirement to do so, you may wish to remove your ex-spouse from all provisions of your will. You can certainly keep them in if you want, but if you are like most people, you want to completely separate your lives.
When you created your will, you appointed an executor, which is someone responsible for administering your estate in the event of your death. If your named your ex-spouse as your executor, you may want to choose someone else.
Review your beneficiary designations. Most people name their spouse as a beneficiary or heir to any assets. Now that you are divorced, you should name new beneficiaries unless you want everything going to your ex-spouse.
Can my ex-spouse challenge the changes?
Your ex-spouse has a legal right to challenge the new terms of your will. Their likelihood of success depends on various factors, such as what terms are in your divorce agreement.
For example, if your divorce agreement states that your spouse will receive a valuable piece of art or jewelry, you cannot change your will to say that you are giving it to someone else. The terms of the divorce agreement control.
Options for updating the will
You can update your will by creating a codicil, or an addition, to it, but the easiest way is to just write an entirely new will. You must revoke your old will before doing this, either by physically destroying it or writing down that you intend to revoke the entire contents of your old will.