Most people have some idea that, when they die, their will is the document which will direct where their assets should go. Yet, according to Forbes magazine, nearly two out of three adult Americans do not have a will, which includes over half of adults aged 55 to 64. When you consider the fact that the average life expectancy in the US is 78 years old, that’s a lot of people cutting it close with their estate planning. But regardless of whether you have a will, what matters is whether that will is actually up-to-date in that it reflects your current wishes. In some cases, having an out-of-date will might be less preferable than having a will at all, especially when your will designates beneficiaries no longer in your life. One common occurrence that this issue arises in is the question of whether your ex-spouse will inherit from you following your death.
Where No Will Exists
When a person dies without a will in Missouri, the state intestacy rules will determine who should receive the deceased’s property, regardless of what the deceased might have expressed in his or her life. If the deceased is married at the time of the death, then the surviving spouse will receive at least one-half of the deceased’s property and potentially all of the property if there are no children. This is true even if the spouses are separated. But where the spouses had received a valid divorce decree, then the ex-spouse would receive nothing from the deceased even if the deceased had intended to provide for the ex-spouse after death. Children that the deceased had with the divorced spouse may still inherit, however.
Where an Out-of-Date Will Exists
If there is a will, and the will names a spouse who has since divorced from the deceased, then Missouri state law will automatically disqualify that ex-spouse from inheriting anything under the will, although the rest of the will survives intact. This may sometimes be what the deceased would have wanted, but in many cases a person may still want to provide at least some inheritance to an ex-spouse after death.
Thus, if you are divorced after you make a will, you should update your will regardless of whether you want your ex-spouse to inherit in order to: 1) substitute a new beneficiary to take the place of receiving what the ex-spouse would have received; or 2) make it clear that you would nevertheless like to provide for the ex-spouse despite being divorced.
Plan For Your Future Now
The Law Store attorneys are here to assist you with your estate planning needs at a price that is affordable. Our Free First AdviceTM program allows you to meet with one of our attorneys free of charge to discuss how best to accomplish your estate planning goals, including creating a will, power of attorney, or advanced healthcare directive. Book an appointment today by dropping by The Law Store, calling us, or scheduling a service online.