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How Marriage and Divorce Affects Your Estate Plan

Hopefully, you have an estate plan in place, no matter how old you are or how many assets you think you have. Even a simple will can help to ensure that your money, home, and other assets go to the people you want after you die. Other provisions, such as a durable power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney, can ensure that your wishes are honored if you are disabled or incapacitated.

Even if you have an estate plan in place, getting married can change what happens to your assets. Likewise, getting divorced can significantly change the outcome of your estate, no matter what you had outlined in your previous will or other estate plans. If you are getting married or divorced, you need to talk with an attorney to review and revise your estate plans as needed.

I’m Judy A. Oxford, an experienced Franklin divorce lawyer, and I help clients understand how major changes like marriage and divorce can affect their estate plans. Then I help them update their estate plans to try to ensure that their wishes are honored when they pass and try to protect their beneficiaries.

Marriage and Estate Planning

In Tennessee, if you haveassetsand you get married, there can be significant consequences in the event of your death, even if you have a will. The law gives your spouse the right to ask the court to give her a sizeable share of your estate, the home, the contents of the home, and a year’s support, even if you have a will that has left less than that to her. The share of your estate that your spouse can get varies depending on the amount of time you’re married. It is important to take this into account in making your plans.

You also cannot assume that the laws surround marital assets will be enough to direct your assets after you die. There could be situations in which adult children and other family members challenge a surviving spouse’s rights to certain assets. Having a thorough estate plan can ensure that your spouse gets what he or she should after you die.

It is especially important for you to update a will you may have created while you were single, or married previously, after you get married. There are options under the law for your spouse to get an appropriate share of your estate, but another party could make a case challenging those rights using a previous will. Ensure that there is no confusion or room for error by updating your will when you get married.

Divorce and Estate Plans

Getting a divorce will revoke the parts of your will leaving property to your former spouse, or naming your former spouse as executor. So, it is important that you change your estate plans as soon as you can after your divorce is final. You should specify what you want your former spouse to have (if anything at all) and who you want to have your assets or decision-making authority going forward. You want your estate plan to reflect your wishes when you pass away.

If you are planning to be married or divorced, call me, Judy A. Oxfordattorney at law, at my office at (615) 791-8511 to discuss your situation. You can also fill out the secure online form to schedule a free consultation. I am committed to serving your best interests and helping you achieve your goals effectively and efficiently.