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Divorce and your estate: do you have a plan for your plan?

Most educated people will tell you that you should update your estate plan after any major life event such as after marriage, having a child, the death of a loved one and yes, even after divorce.  But if you're like a lot of our Missouri readers, estate planning may be the last thing on your mind when going through the divorce process.  After all, you have enough on your plate.  Why should you concern yourself with your will when you need to be focusing your energy of dissolving your marriage and moving on with your life?

Because an estate plan lays out your end-of-life wishes -- such as what you'd like done with your remains and how you would like your assets distributed to loved ones -- it's very important to consider how your divorce will affect the execution of it down the road.  So what is the effect here in Missouri?  Let's take a look.

In Missouri, just as is the case in many other states, the wishes laid out in an estate plan are executed after a person's passing, meaning assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in a will and so on. When most couples marry, they typically name their spouse as the primary beneficiary to most of their assets. But after a divorce, this may not be the desire anymore. This is where Missouri law steps in.

According to our state's laws, any provisions in an estate plan that name your spouse as a beneficiary of certain assets becomes invalid after a divorce is finalized. This means though that if you do not update your estate plan, your estate may fall into intestate succession after your passing, leaving the distribution of your estate up to the courts to decide.

Even though estate planning is not typically regarded during the divorce process, as you can see, divorce can affect this important legal document. That's why it doesn't hurt to consider it during your own dissolution of marriage proceedings and ask your attorney about any necessary changes you should be making while you still can.

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