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The Effects of Divorce on Your Will

If you and your spouse created wills and other estate planning documents during your marriage, those documents may need to change if you are going through a divorce.

What if you don't change your will after a Houston divorce? Texas law addresses this question. If your marriage is dissolved after drafting a will, any provisions in the will that apply to your ex will be read as if your ex passed away before you. The people you named as contingent beneficiaries (such as your children) will receive what you would have given to your ex spouse.

Similarly, your stepchildren will no longer receive the property you willed to them. The Code states that, after a divorce, "all provisions of the will, including all fiduciary appointments, shall be read as if the former spouse and each relative of the former spouse who is not a relative of the testator failed to survive the testator, unless the will expressly provides otherwise."

If you would like to will assets to your stepchildren and your will does not include provisions that expressly state they should receive your assets even in case of a divorce, you will need to change your will to include them.

Wills are fluid documents. Some people can draft one will and have it last for an entire lifetime. Many others, however, will need to amend their wills based on life changes such as divorce. While Texas probate law protects divorced spouses to some extent, it is a good idea to redraft your will to ensure that it reflects your wishes.

Source: Texas Probate Code, Chapter IV, Section 69, "Will Provisions Made Before Dissolution of Marriage."

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