How does divorce affect my estate plan?

Divorce and re-marriage can have a significant affect on the estate plan you have in place.

First and foremost, in California, an "Automatic Temporary Restraining Order" is in effect during the marriage dissolution process. This generally hinders your ability to do estate planning as the law wants to avoid changes in your financial position during the pending divorce. 

Beneficiary Designations

If you designated your ex-spouse as a beneficiary of an asset with a beneficiary designation, for example, your retirement account, this designation is automatically revoked as a result of your divorce.

It's important to remember, however, that the divorce does not revoke the designation of your ex-spouse as the beneficiary of life insurance policies. It's therefore important to take stock of all of your assets and ensure that all beneficiary designation forms are properly updated during the estate planning process.


If you created an estate plan while you were single and then got married, your estate planning documents may be overridden at the time of your death, if your spouse survives you.

Your surviving spouse is entitled to the "statutory share" of your probate or trust estate. More details will be provided in another post; however, just note that if you have an existing estate plan and you get married, you must take steps to ensure that your estate plan will still be enforced despite your marriage. Most often, this can be a statement in your estate planning documents which states that you intend for your estate plan to be effective even though you recently were married.

Marriage brings with it many joys, but divorce is a precipitating event that forces many people to revisit the estate planning process. If you're going through a divorce, are contemplating divorce, or have completed a divorce, it's important to see what impact it may have on your estate plan.