Decatur Family Law and Probate Attorney

Does your ex-spouse have a claim to your estate?

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2023 | Divorce

Divorce is a stressful process, and it is natural to focus on managing the issues right in front of you. However, it is also a process during which you might want to think about the future of your estate.

The law might automatically exclude your former spouse and in-laws as beneficiaries upon the finalization of your divorce. However, there are some caveats to this.

The automatic removal of your spouse

Texas law states that, once you get a divorce, your spouse and former relatives will no longer be beneficiaries in the context of the distribution of assets from your estate after death. Specifically, the law directs interpreters of your will to act as though these people died before you.

A similar rule could apply to trusts. The law could essentially write your former relatives out of the trust.

Exceptions to the removal

There are some possible exceptions that would allow your former spouse or relatives to remain beneficiaries of your estate. For example, your estate planning instruments could explicitly state that you do not want the automatic removal to occur.

For example, you might want to still give some kind of property to your spouse if your divorce was amicable. It is likely you could achieve this with a relatively simple redrafting of your estate planning documents.

A note about timelines

Most people have a will to deal with the inevitable — not to prepare for the expected. On that note, you might want to consider that these laws would only apply upon the finalization of your divorce. Your spouse would remain a beneficiary during the divorce process if you did not proactively change the terms in your will or trust.