Untying the knot

Frayed knot

Frayed knotThis week ends my trilogy on marriage and divorce with the question: what happens to your estate plan when you divorce?

Most people would be quite surprised to learn that divorce in Ontario does not automatically revoke a will. Instead, what happens depends on how far along in the process you are.

If you are separated and do not have a separation agreement, nothing happens; if your ex is named in your will, then your ex is going to inherit. If you have a separation agreement, then your ex is cut out from inheriting if that is stated in the agreement, but could still act as your executor if you have that in your will. If you are divorced, then your ex is treated as if they are dead, but the rest of the will still stands. It’s important to update if you named your in-laws in your will but want your own family there now.

Here are some other things to update when you separate:

  1. Your will
  2. Your Powers of Attorney – these are NOT revoked on divorce
  3. Beneficiary designations on all accounts and insurance policies
  4. Car ownership
  5. House ownership
  6. Bank and investment account ownership

Finally, you should speak with relatives (especially parents) to ensure their estate plans take into consideration your divorce

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