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Divorced or Separated? Don’t let your ex take a second bite from your estate!

I appreciate that if you have just gone through a divorce you probably don’t want more lawyers in your life, however it is vital to update your estate plan as you are building your new life and here is why…  

Your ex could get a second bite of the cherry! I was involved in a matter where a man died unexpectedly without a Will and his entire $2 MILLION dollar estate went to his estranged wife. At the time of separation, the couple had split what they had and didn’t bother with a legal settlement OR A DIVORCE. The couple didn’t have any children, meaning that the estranged wife was the next of kin.   

It is common for people to sort the property before their divorce is finalised. I often get asked “should I wait until I’m divorced before I update my will?”. In Victoria, separation does not invalidate your Will. As such, it is essential to update your estate plan to reflect your change of circumstances. Do you want the lion’s share of your wealth going to your ex?  

Once your divorce has been finalised, any clause appointing your former spouse as an executor or any gift left to them will be revoked. I had a client who was shocked to learn this because she wanted her ex-husband to benefit from her estate (stranger things can happen). The important thing is to be aware of the legal impact of your divorce on your estate plan and take control. 

One unintended consequence of not updating your Will after a divorce is that your ex could be the financial controller to the assets left to kids. Money worries are the leading cause of divorce. While there is not much you can do about your ex being the guardian of your child, you can protect your child’s inheritance by appointing someone you trust to manage the money. 

It is equally as important to review and update your Will when you move on in life and meet someone new. You might think you have your affairs in order without realising your Will has been revoked by marriage. The only time marriage does not revoke a Will is where the Will expressly states that it was made “in contemplation of marriage”.

Updating your estate plan after separation is something that regularly falls through the cracks. If this is something you have been putting off, contact us now and we promise we will make it as painless as possible. 

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