Wedding rings and gavel, divorce concept

Does My Ex Have Rights to My Estate? 

Russell Manning Attorney  Aug. 14, 2023

Many individuals often establish an estate plan to provide instructions about how their estate and affairs should be managed upon death. Generally, anything you give to your legal spouse in your estate plan will remain binding if you were still married at the time of death. Your spouse will be entitled to inherit any property and asset you leave for them. However, in the event of a divorce or legal separation, you may be concerned about how your estate will be distributed upon your demise. 

For more than 30 years, at Russell Manning Attorney at Law, I have devoted my career to offering experienced legal services and guiding clients in estate planning and estate administration matters. As a trusted Texas estate planning attorney, I’m available to discuss what happens to your estate plan after your divorce and provide a solution tailored to your best interests. My firm proudly serves clients across Corpus Christi, South Texas, Kleberg County, Aransas County, Bee County, and The Coastal Bend area, Texas. 

Will My Ex Inherit My Assets?

Under the law, an executor has a requirement to administer an estate in accordance with the instructions of a will or estate planning documents. However, a divorce or separation terminates the right of an ex-spouse to an estate. Thus, they may not receive any share of the asset or inheritance. 

According to Texas law, a will in favor of a former spouse will be considered invalid and must be read as if the ex-spouse didn’t survive the testator. If you fail to review and update your will after a divorce, your ex-partner will not inherit any asset from your estate – even if you want them to. 

How Prenup/Postnuptial Agreements Affect Inheritance Rights

Marital agreements, such as prenups and postnuptial agreements, usually indicate what each party is entitled to receive either in a divorce or upon the death of one of the spouses. If you die after a divorce, your ex-spouse will be eligible to inherit out of your estate, depending on the provisions of the prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. 

The Importance of Updating Your Estate Plan after a Divorce

It is essential to update your estate plan every three or five years, after an achievement, or anytime you experience major life changes. Updating your estate plan regularly can help ensure that the instruction and provisions of your will, living trust, powers of attorney, advance directives, and other estate planning documents are consistent with your current wishes. 

Additionally, you can make changes to your estate plan to ensure that it meets the current federal and state estate planning or tax laws. Doing this will make it possible for all your estate planning documents to remain valid and legal in your state. A dedicated estate planning attorney can determine what you need to consider when updating your will and direct you through the procedures involved. 

Things to Consider When Revising

Here are some of the crucial things to consider when reviewing and updating your will after a divorce or legal separation: 

Children From Your Terminated Marriage

After remarrying or entering a new romantic relationship, you may want to include your new partner in your estate plan. However, you should also think about the inheritance of your children from your previous marriage. Therefore, you can protect them from losing most of their potential inheritance to your new partner by making suitable provisions for them in your revised estate plan.  

Appointing a Trusted Executor

In addition, if you named your ex-spouse as your personal representative or executor in your will, you need to consider updating the document. Most importantly, ensure that you choose a trusted person that will prioritize your best interests and those of your surviving loved ones when administering your estate. 

Estate Planning for Blended Families

However, many modern families are now blended, consisting of a stepparent, step-siblings, or half-siblings. This means that there are more people to put into consideration when drafting or updating your estate plan. You will need to have an open and honest conversation with your new partner about how each child or family member should be provided for in the estate plan. Also, ensure that the beneficiaries are legally entitled to receive any property or assets you intend to leave for them. 

Compassionate Legal Assistance

Reviewing and updating your estate plan is crucial after a divorce or major life change. While your ex-partner will be automatically disinherited from your estate plan upon your death, it is still important to update your estate planning documents to ensure that the provisions are consistent with your present wishes. 

At Russell Manning, Attorney at Law, I carefully analyze each client's best options when reviewing and updating their estate plans. As your legal counsel, I can assess your situation, explore your possible legal options to update or adjust your estate plan and direct you through the legal processes involved from start to finish. 

Contact me at Russell Manning Attorney at Law today to schedule an initial consultation with a practiced estate planning lawyer. My firm proudly serves clients across Corpus Christi, South Texas, Kleberg County, Aransas County, Bee County, and The Coastal Bend area, Texas.