Whenever you go through a marriage, divorce, or have a child, there are some estate planning changes and issues you will need to address. We’ve counseled many people in Kansas and Oklahoma on creating effective wills that protect their inheritance decisions and other estate planning issues. But wills are not written in stone, and anyone who creates a will must be ready to update and modify the document should certain changes take place. People who have a will and to go through a marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child, should be prepared to make such changes.
Marriage, Divorce, Children, and Legal Requirements
It’s important to understand that the legal requirements for creating a basic last will and testament are fairly simple regardless of the state in which you live. But a legally valid last will and testament is very different from an effective will. An effective will addresses the individual circumstances present in your life in such a way that it will make the management of your estate much simpler after you die. While you can create a legally valid will without addressing any changes that take place in your life, failing to update your will after such changes occur is a serious mistake.
Marriage and Your Will
If you are a single person who has made a last will and testament, you’ve probably chosen to leave your property to close family members, charities, or institutions or organizations that are important to you. You are under no legal obligation to leave your property to any particular person when you’re single and can effectively make whatever choices you like.
But this changes a little when you get married. Spouses earn the right to inherit from another upon the other spouse’s death. If your will doesn’t address this automatic inheritance right, it could make the management of your estate more complicated, and could actually confound your intentions.
Marriage and Divorce
Similar to marriage, divorce changes the automatic inheritance rights you and your former spouse have. You’re no longer entitled to receive an inheritance from another after you get a divorce. Even if your will grants your former spouse an inheritance, a court will generally ignore it after you get divorced unless you include specific language that expresses your desire to leave an inheritance to your former spouse regardless of whether the two of you are still married.
Marriage and children
If you create a will before you have a child, it’s important that you update the document after the child’s birth. Even if you decide not to leave an inheritance to your children, you should address your children in the will regardless.
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