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Do you have to amend your will after your divorce?

Posted on November 3, 2017

You are encouraged to begin your estate planning early on in your adult life. Yet this process is not something that is undertaken and then immediately over; rather, it should be fluid, with changes constantly being made as your own circumstances in St. Louis evolve. One major life event that will affect significant changes to your estate is your marriage. You will no doubt want to make changes to accommodate your spouse (and any children you two may have together). Yet what if you later choose to divorce?

You may have heard stories about people dying without realizing they never updated their wills, thus leaving everything to their ex-spouses. Well, this technically cannot happen in Missouri. According to Section 474.420 of Missouri’s Revised Statutes, a divorce automatically revokes any provisions pertaining to your ex-spouse in your will. No matter what you do (or rather, do not do), he or she will not be party to your estate.

This may cause you to believe that you do not need to do anything to amend your will. Notice, however, how the law only states that those elements regarding your ex-spouse are revoked, not the will itself. Say that you remarry without ever amending your will. If you die, your new spouse may not be entitled to the standard share of your estate that he or she may have otherwise received under the rules of intestate succession (your dying without a will). Instead, your estate may be dispersed according to those still-active provisions of your earlier will. Knowing this, you may see why it is recommended that even without the threat of your ex-spouse inadvertently inheriting your estate, you should still consider amending your will following your divorce.