People’s financial circumstances change. This usually happens when a significant change in your life occurs, like getting married, moving to a new city, getting promoted, losing a job, filing bankruptcy, or even going through a divorce. If you’re made it a point to write your own will, then it should make sense to update its contents once these major life changes happen.
A divorce, in particular, is quite a considerable change, which will prompt you to revisit your current will. Forgetting to do this can have some serious financial consequences for you. Here’s what you need to know about what happens to your will after going through a tough divorce.
Does Marriage Affect Your Will?
First, let’s discuss how getting married affects your will. In Ontario, whenever a person with a will gets married, that will is automatically revoked. That’s right. The entire will is cancelled unless the will was made with the marriage in mind. This just means your will should have a statement that references your upcoming marriage and your spouse’s name. Without that statement, the will is going to be automatically revoked.
However, it’s important to remember that the laws across Canada are no longer the same. If you married your spouse in one province and they died in another, the decision of which laws apply to you can get a little complicated.
What Happens to Your Will After a Divorce?
A divorce, on the other hand, works a little differently. If you get a divorce, your will doesn’t automatically get revoked. Instead, what happens is only the provisions in your will that refer to your spouse are revoked, making your spouse no longer an executor, trustee, or guardian. If you have any gifts you left for your former spouse, they no longer belong to your spouse and will go to someone else. Who that person is all depends on the contents of your will.
This alone is a complicated situation. So, the best course of action when getting a divorce is to redo your entire will. Most married couples leave everything in their will to their surviving spouse. If this is no longer what you want, then be sure to remove any mention of your spouse from it if you don’t want to leave something to them. However, in your new will, you need to name a new beneficiary, which could be a friend, family member, or your children, if you have any.
Guardians and Executors of the Will
Along with the beneficiaries of your assets, you also need to name a new executor of the will if this role previously belonged to your ex-spouse. An executor is a person in charge of distributing your estate according to your wishes.
If you have any children with your ex-spouse, naming a guardian is actually recommended in the unlikely event that both you and your ex-spouse are no longer available to raise your children. In the event of your untimely death, your children will most likely be raised by your ex-spouse. This is simpler since courts don’t usually assign guardianship to third parties unless both parents are deceased or unfit.
Knowing what happens to your will after major life changes is essential. A divorce is a harrowing experience to go through and it has many challenges, including the matter of revising your will. This guide should give you an idea of what to expect and how these changes will affect the distribution of your estate.
Ontario Wills & Estate Plans is here to help you determine what’s the best legal option for protecting your estate. Whether you need help on how to amend a will or assign a power of attorney, our team is here to help. Contact us today and let our estate lawyers assist you.