Wills and other estate planning documents should be regularly reviewed and updated as well as revised after major life events, including marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child. If you have recently divorced, you should take the time to consult with a lawyer about the status of your will, as well as healthcare power of attorney and other estate planning documents.
New Jersey Laws Regarding Divorce and Wills
As in many other states, New Jersey law provides some protection to divorcees by automatically revoking inheritance rights or provisions of ex-spouses and their relatives. In other words, even if you do not change your will after your divorce, the law prevents your ex-spouse from their former legal rights as your beneficiary in a will or trust.
After a divorce in New Jersey, by law, your ex-spouse and any relative of your ex are also automatically removed from any fiduciary role typically included in most couples’ wills, such as that of executor, guardian, or conservator. If your former spouse was designated as your healthcare representative, this is also automatically revoked by law after legal separation or divorce. The only time these laws do not apply is if they are contrary to the express terms of a court order, terms set out in a governing instrument such as your will, or if you and your spouse had a contract relating to the division of marital assets that was signed before or after your marriage or divorce.
What Other Documents Do I Need to Change After My Divorce?
Besides clarifying how you would like your estate to be dispersed after your passing, you will need to review all your estate planning documents after your divorce to ensure they reflect your current wishes. In New Jersey, the court will always follow the law to determine what happens if you have not given specific directives. After your ex is automatically removed from your will and other documents, if there is no designated alternate, the state will appoint someone.
This means you need to carefully think about who you want to fulfill roles such as executor, attorney-in-fact, healthcare representative, and guardian to any minors or incapacitated individuals in your care. You should also review who is listed as the beneficiary on any insurance policies you may have, as well as your pension plan or 401(k).
If you are on good terms with your former spouse and would like them to remain as executor or in any other fiduciary role, you will need to have them reinstated in the corresponding documents. Consulting with an experienced lawyer can ensure that nothing is left to chance and that all your legal documents are in order following your divorce.
Contact a Marlton Divorce Lawyer at Burnham Douglass for Answers to All Your Questions Regarding Your Will After a Divorce
Consult with a Marlton divorce lawyer at Burnham Douglass for help today. We can prepare you with all the crucial information you need to protect your rights. Call 856-751-5505 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey, including Evesham Township, Cherry Hill, Camden County, Burlington County, and Atlantic City.