When you go through a divorce, it’s understandable that estate planning won’t be your top priority. But when the time comes, it’s important to turn your attention to your will, because the divorce can have an impact on what you have previously executed
Revocation upon divorce
When two people marry, it’s common for one of them to execute a will at some point, naming their spouse as the beneficiary of some, or all, of their estate. It’s also common to name that spouse as the executor of their will. But what happens when you divorce and neglect to make any changes?
Fortunately, Illinois recognizes this potential problem – realizing that someone may no longer want their ex-spouse in the will but may also forget to amend it. Illinois Statute Section 755 5/4-7 exists to address this, by automatically revoking the ex-spouse’s designation in the will. Your will as a whole is still valid, with the statute only affecting the parts pertaining to your ex-spouse.
If your ex-spouse was named as a beneficiary, the designation will no longer be honored. Instead, anything left to the ex-spouse will be treated as though you died intestate. If they were named executor, this will also be treated as if you were intestate.
This does not mean that you can’t leave your ex-spouse in the will, if you so choose – you will simply need to take steps to overcome the statutory revocation. This can be accomplished by re-executing the will after the divorce is final. Illinois has similar revocation laws which apply to trusts and insurance policies. When the time is right, speak to a professional who is experienced in Illinois estate planning, to ensure your estate plan is up to date following the divorce.