Does one need to modify a will after a divorce?

During a marriage, a couple purchases and acquires many assets together. They may purchase homes and other property, grow 401(k)s and other retirement accounts, have investment accounts, grow bank accounts, purchase vehicles, household goods and many other things. To ensure these assets stay within the family when they die many people also draft wills which give all these assets to their spouse if the spouse survives them.

However, if the couple divorces most likely they will not want to give all their assets to their former spouses. So, the question is what happens to people's wills after a divorce since the spouse in the will is no longer a spouse?

In many situations if people want to change a provision in their wills, they need to amend it through a codicil or revoke a prior will and execute a new one. However, there is no need to do this after a divorce, if people simply wants to take their former spouse out of the will.

A divorce automatically removes the former spouse from the will by treating them as if they did not survive the person. The property will automatically go to whoever is next in line to receive the property after the former spouse. The divorce also removes the former spouse from being an executor, trustee, conservator or guardian in the will. This is only true for divorces though. If the couple only has a legal separation the spouse would still be in the will.

There are many issues that people in Tennessee must work through while going through a divorce. However, removing former spouses from their wills is not one of them. The divorce automatically removes the former spouse for people. However, if there are other changes people want made to a will after a divorce or at any other time, they must modify their current will or execute a new will revoking all prior wills. It is important for people to understand the law to ensure their property goes to who they would like it to go to and attorneys may be able to help ensure that occurs.

Source: codes.findlaw.com, "Tennessee Code Title 32. Wills § 32-1-202" accessed on Sept. 6, 2017

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