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How is a will impacted if the testator gets divorced in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Jan 28, 2022 | Estate Planning

Estate planning is an important step for Virginia residents who want to ensure their loved ones are taken care of and their property goes where they want it to go after death. A common and relatively simple way to do this is to create a will. Often, people write their wills and experience life changes after it has been completed. In some cases, it is a positive event like a child or grandchild being born. There could be an increase in income and assets that must be addressed. Or there might be a life change that makes it necessary for a person who had been named in the will to be removed or their share of the estate to be reduced. Understanding how this is handled in an estate plan is key.

A divorce or annulment will automatically change a will

One situation that will beget automatic change to an estate plan is if there is a divorce. Virginia is somewhat unique in that if there is a divorce or annulment, the will revokes any disposition or appointment of property that would have gone to the spouse had they remained married. The testator does not need to take any of these steps on his or her own to make these changes and update the will to address the divorce.

If there were powers of appointment for the former spouse or they were named the executor, guardian, conservator or trustee, that too will be revoked by divorce or annulment. It is viewed as if the former spouse died before the testator. In such an instance, they would not receive any of the proceeds of the will and that is the same situation if there was a divorce. In some cases, the parties might have divorced and chosen to remarry each other. When that occurs, the will that had been revoked by the divorce will go back into effect.

People should know how a divorce will change their will and act accordingly

In many states, the estate plan must be altered by the person for those adjustments to take effect. Virginia is different. In some circumstances, the person might not want to remove the former spouse from the will or could simply want to change how the will is structured without cutting that person out entirely. Then it is imperative to look at the document and make the necessary adjustments. For advice, it is wise to consult with estate planning professionals who understand all aspects of wills and trusts.