When you go through a divorce, your estate plan may be the last thing on your mind. That’s completely understandable but, when you’re ready, it’s time to take another look at your estate plan and make revisions where necessary – because Arizona law makes some fundamental changes to your plan, automatically, as soon as the divorce is final.
Revocation upon divorce
Arizona Statute Section 14-2804 can have a profound impact on your estate plan, without you even realizing it. The law states that, the moment a divorce decree is issued, quite a few provisions in your plan are revoked automatically.
Take your last will and testament, for example. It still remains valid following your divorce, but your ex-spouse is now disqualified as a beneficiary. They are also disqualified from any fiduciary positions to which you may have named them – so, if your ex-spouse was supposed to be the executor of your estate, they aren’t anymore once the divorce is final. If you have a living trust, it is treated similar to how wills are treated.
If your ex-spouse has been granted power of attorney, for financial or health care reasons, their grant of authority is revoked. Sometimes, individuals will name alternates in a power of attorney. If you have done so, the power of attorney for the alternate remains valid if they are still willing to serve in that capacity. Where the ex-spouse has been named a beneficiary in a life insurance policy, or if they possess rights of survivorship (in property, for instance), their status is automatically revoked.
You may desire some of these changes which will automatically take place. Or there may be instances where you want your ex-spouse to retain the status they previously held. Whichever is the case, the fact that the changes occur after your divorce means it’s time to review your estate plan to ensure it continues to reflect your wishes moving forward.