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Do people change their wills because of divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2023 | Estate Planning

Many people decide to alter their estate plans when their marital status changes. Similar to the birth of a child, a marriage or the death of a close relative, a divorce could be a time of changing legal statuses and priorities for you and your family.

There is no hard and fast rule in these situations. Your own decision would probably involve a consideration of state law, your existing estate planning instruments and your personal preferences.

North Carolina law on divorce and wills

North Carolina law has terms that might automatically write your ex out of your will. Specifically, absolute divorce or annulment of marriage revoke all provisions in favor of your former spouse. This revocation includes, but is not limited to, provisions that name your ex as a trustee or executor.

This rule goes into effect upon the finalization of your divorce. This means that, throughout your divorce process, your spouse could potentially still benefit from your death.

Other estate planning instruments

You might have other estate planning strategies in place — other than just a will. Please keep in mind that the law about automatic revocation that this article references above only applies to wills. Other considerations might include:


       Life insurance policies

       Access to digital assets and accounts

Marriage tends to become an interdependent relationship, and you might have plans that you have forgotten about. Many people take the opportunity to organize things during the divorce process, preparing for a future apart.

Personal preferences

If you decide that you want your ex to remain in your will after divorce, the state law that automatically revokes provisions benefiting your former spouse might work against you instead of for you. In this case, depending on the details of your estate plan, you might consider making some changes.