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In Utah, what effect does a divorce have on an estate plan?

Did you know that divorcing after the age of 50 is becoming a common occurrence across the nation? Called "grey divorce," some believe it's happening because of changing perceptions on divorce. Others believe it's happening because seeing women in the workforce is considered more acceptable now than it was during the Baby Boomer era, which is causing some women to rethink whether or not they want to be married still.

Whatever the reason, the increasing trend of divorces after 50 is raising an interesting question and it's one most people haven't even considered to ask: what effect does a divorce have on an estate plan? For our readers here in Utah, it's a question we'd like to answer in today's post.

Most people, when they draft their estate plan, name their spouse as their beneficiary and may even name them as their power of attorney over their health care directives. Most people are happy with this arrangement because they want to provide for their spouse and trust that their spouse will do the right thing.

When tensions mount during the divorce process though, sentiments can change. Trust can easily shift in the other direction and what was once a need to provide for a spouse may turn to a desire to leave them with nothing. So how do Utahns account for this when they've already drafted their estate plan?

For those who don't know, there is a section in the Utah Uniform Probate Code that addresses divorce and estate plans. This section explains that divorce or an annulment make provisions in an estate plan revocable if they name a former spouse as a beneficiary. It's worth pointing out that separations or any arrangements that do not dissolve a marriage do not count in this instance.

Though our law does seem to address the issue of divorce and a person's estate plan, it's worth noting that it's still a good idea to talk to an attorney during and/or after divorce proceedings. That's because the wording of an estate plan may be in such a way that it survives the divorce, meaning an ex could still be a beneficiary. In other cases, a court order or a signed contract might act similarly, which can leave a legal mess for surviving loved ones if you don't address it before you die.

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