What happens to my Will when I get divorced?

This is a pretty common question. Most estate plans do not specifically address what is to happen in the event of a divorce. You and your ex-spouse may have executed joint Wills at some point during your marriage. So now that you are no longer married, what happens?

First of all, whatever your Will says, controls. That means that if your Will is contrary to the default result in the Utah Code, your Will controls. If you executed a Will, and your ex-spouse is named as a beneficiary, your ex-spouse will be treated as if he/she predeceased you to the extent possible. That is, any gift to your ex-spouse fails and goes into your residuary estate or passes under intestate laws.

That does not mean that you do not need to get a new will after you get a divorce. In fact, if you have a current Will which was made before your divorce, it is very important that you speak with an estate planning attorney. It is very important to take steps to protected your other loved ones from any claims that can be brought against your estate by an ex-spouse. If there is a Will naming an ex-spouse as a beneficiary, that is going to create one more problem for the rest of your beneficiaries.

So the bottom line is this, if your ex-spouse is named in your Will, and your Will was created while you were married, the court is probably going to revoke any gift you made to your ex-spouse. However, that is just going to be an added problem for your surviving loved ones.