Do I need to update my will if I am getting divorced?

If you are going through a divorce, estate planning is probably the last thing on your mind.  However, it is very important to update your estate plan at this time.  If you don’t, your ex-spouse could still have the authority to make medical and financial decisions for you, even after you are divorced.  They could also receive your assets when you die (real estate, bank accounts, life insurance, etc.) if the proper documents are not updated.  If you are getting divorced, you should contact an attorney at Matrium Law Group at (406) 552-7814 to update your will and your other estate planning documents.     

If you are like most people, if you made a will while you were married, you left everything to your spouse, which is probably not the result you want now.  In Montana, if you get divorced after making a will, any gifts that your will makes to your former spouse are automatically revoked.  However, the law doesn’t take effect until you have a final decree of divorce.  If you die before your divorce is final, gifts that your will makes to your spouse are still valid.  Your divorce does not automatically revoke your beneficiary designations.  

Note that a separation decree that does not terminate the status of husband and wife is not considered as a divorce under the Montana Uniform Probate Code.  This means that even if you are legally separated, gifts that your will makes to your spouse are still valid.

An important part of an estate plan is the power of attorney.  The power of attorney is a document that give someone else the authority to act for you if it is ever necessary. You should have two powers of attorney – one for medical decisions and one for financial matters.  If you did your estate planning while you were still married, your powers of attorney probably give your former spouse the authority to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf.  Unless you want your ex-spouse to retain this authority, you should contact Matrium Law Group at (406) 552-7814 to update your powers of attorney as soon as possible.     

Matrium Law Group is a family law and estate planning law firm.  We are committed to providing excellent, practical, and affordable legal counsel to our clients.  We are located in Missoula, Montana and we help individuals, families, and businesses throughout Montana.  For more information about Matrium Law Group, visit our website at www.matriumlaw.com.