Do I Need to Modify My Estate After My Divorce?

Many states require you to make changes to your estate after you divorce. In those instances, legally dissolving your marriage does not automatically amend any documents, so if you want your former spouse taken out of your will, you must take action to do so. If you live in Arizona, you may be wondering, “Do I need to modify my estate plan after divorce?”

How a Divorce Affects Your Estate

In Arizona, if you pass away after you’ve divorced, your former spouse is not considered your surviving spouse and is therefore not eligible to receive any part of your estate. A former spouse is also unable to act as the personal representative, executor, or trustee for your estate. You don’t have to amend your will or leave any instructions. The probate courts automatically remove a spouse upon receiving confirmation of your divorce or dissolution.

A Legal Separation Is Not the Same

It’s important to remember that a legal separation is different from a divorce. Although both address many of the same issues – such as alimony, child support and custody, and division of community property – being legally separated means your marriage has not ended. If you passed away while separated, your spouse would be entitled to half your community property, plus anything else you may have left them in your will. If you’re concerned about what your spouse may inherit when you pass away, you should amend your will or file a motion to convert your legal separation to a divorce.

Why Is It a Good Idea to Update Your Estate Plan Anyway?

It is always a good idea to update your estate plan after a divorce.  Even though there are some automatic protections, many of these do not actually come to fruition until a court action has begun in after your divorce.  This means that your children or other heirs could be fighting amongst themselves or other family members in order to settle your estate.  In any event, it is a step that could be avoided through appropriate estate planning.

Talk to A Divorce Attorney

Even if you aren’t concerned about your former spouse inheriting your estate, you may still wish to talk to a divorce attorney about making some revisions to your estate. The attorneys at Udall Shumway, PLC can look over your current will or, if you don’t have one, they can advise you on how to set up your estate so your wishes will be carried out as you intended.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding My Estate Plan After Divorce, or other family law/estate planning issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300 or Stephen L. West at 480.461.5341, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.