When you go through a divorce, your estate plan may be the last thing on your mind. That’s perfectly natural, but it’s important to understand that it can have a large impact on many estate planning documents you have previously executed. Your will is one of them.
Some things happen automatically
For someone who is married and executes a will, it’s very common for them to name their spouse as a beneficiary for many, if not all, of their assets. Once the divorce is final, it may be some time before it even occurs to you that you may not want your ex-spouse as a beneficiary any longer. Maryland recognizes this possibility and assumes it to be the case. As a result, Maryland Code Section 4-105 automatically revokes any provision of your will relating to your ex-spouse, as soon as the divorce is final.
What does this mean for you? It means that anywhere you have named your ex-spouse as a beneficiary in your will is no longer valid. It also means that, if you have named your ex-spouse as your executor, that designation is no longer valid. This does not mean that your entire will is invalid – it’s not. Rather, only those provisions relating to your ex-spouse are.
If you do not update your will following the divorce, and if you did not name other beneficiaries or an alternate executor, it can be like you died intestate. The court will have to choose who takes on the role of executor and how your assets will be divided, pursuant to Maryland’s rules regarding intestacy. To ensure your wishes are honored, you should update your estate plan and execute a new will.