Can You Disinherit Your Spouse After Divorce?

Your spouse files for divorce. As the process moves forward, you start adjusting your estate plan. You want to cut your spouse — soon to be your ex — out of it entirely. Can you do that?

You can, but it is important to note that there are cases where your ex may have a legal right to some assets that are included in your estate plan. For instance, your ex may be able to claim some of your pension based on how long you were married.

If that’s true, completely disinheriting your ex may simply set up a future court case where they contest your will and fight for the money in court. Some people choose to do so anyway, either because they hope that their ex won’t contest the estate plan or they want to make it harder for their former spouse to get the money. That’s not to say it is the right or wrong move because every case is unique.

You may be better off, though, to look into the legal rights your ex has. What can you do to create an estate plan that protects your assets as much as possible without triggering a contest? What documents do you definitely want to update, such as your health care proxy?

If you are divorcing, take the time to go over your estate plan carefully with your attorney. This is the time to make some significant changes and updates. Find out what rights you have and what legal steps you will need to take to modify your estate plan to fit your new circumstances.