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In Pennsylvania, will my divorce affect my estate plan?

4/24/2015 | Kaplin Stewart Blog

If you’re like a small portion of people here in Pennsylvania, you’re probably meticulous about your estate plan. Not only did you likely get it in order while you were still young, you have probably also been careful to update it when a major life event has occurred. You might even be like some of our more frequent readers who have tapped into the experience of an attorney as well.

But as you know, life can throw you curve balls that can affect your estate plan. Take for example divorce. Most people don’t plan for this major life event and may even be blindsided when they are faced with it. But because most people only have a general understanding of the law, they might have questions about how a divorce affects an estate plan. You might be wondering the same thing right now.

In Pennsylvania, will my divorce affect my estate plan?

To answer this question, we’ll need to look at Title 20, Section 6111.1 of our state’s Consolidated Statutes. In this section, Pennsylvania residents are told, in so many words, that any provision in a conveyance that would otherwise be revocable because of death is also revocable by divorce. For all intents and purposes, a divorced spouse is treated as if they had predeceased the conveyer of the provision.

It’s important to note though that this aspect of the law may not trigger automatically in all cases. If a decree of divorce has not been entered or divorce proceedings were not finalized at the time of the conveyer’s death, then the provisions may still be enforceable.

Whether it’s a will or trust, bank account or real estate property, it’s always considered a good idea to talk to a lawyer regarding your estate plan. Because if you’re like a lot of our Blue Bell readers, you probably want your assets to go to specific people when you die. But if you fail to update your estate plan or check to see if the language of a provision causes it to survive something like a divorce, this might not happen the way you want.

Don’t leave this legal headache for your beneficiaries. Talk to a lawyer today.