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Uncomfortable Thoughts: Death After Divorce

The divorce is over, and you are ready to move forward with your life.  You have your own property, and you and your ex-spouse are working together on your Parenting Plan.  Before you move on, there’s one more thing: don’t forget to think about estate planning.

These are just four examples of why, if you did estate planning during your married life, your estate plan will need some updating.

1) Maryland law automatically revokes any part of your Will that involves your ex-spouse.   So for example, let’s say that in your Will, your children were the beneficiaries of a trust, and your spouse was the trustee.  Now, the law cuts your spouse out of your Will, and there is no trustee to take care of your children’s money.  You may want your brother or sister as the trustee, or a close friend.  Maybe you will want to change your bequests.  Left unexamined, your Will may no longer reflect your desires.

2) Furthermore, the law does not revoke the bequests to your ex-spouse unless the divorce is an absolute divorce (as opposed to a limited divorce).  Your heirs may find after you die that your ex-spouse will receive property under your Will even though you thought yourself divorced, because your divorce was not an absolute one.

3) The Maryland Court of Appeals has held that bequests to family members of your ex-spouse might remain in your Will even after your divorce, depending on the circumstances.  If you don’t want this to happen, here’s another reason to review your estate plan!

4) Tax consequences:  Your lawyer, tax advisor, and/or financial planner may have planned and structured your investments based on your financial situation when you were married.  It is worth reviewing your estate plan along with your portfolio to reflect the circumstances of this new stage in life.

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