FAQs About Wills

How Does Divorce Affect a Previous Will?

by Rania Combs

Although there are no hard and fast rules about how often you should update your will, certain life changes, such as a divorce, will trigger a need to do so.

But what happens if you divorce and die before you’ve had a chance to change your will? Does your estranged ex-spouse get the property you previously willed to him or her while you were still in love?

In Texas, the answer is no.

The Texas statutes provide that if, after making a will, the testator’s marriage is dissolved, either by divorce, annulment, or a declaration that the marriage is void, all the provisions in the will, including all fiduciary appointments, shall be read as if the former spouse predeceased the testator.

So if you previously signed a will that gave all your worldly possessions to your spouse, and named him or her as the executor of your will, but then divorced, your contingent beneficiaries would take under the will. Additionally, those you named as alternate fiduciaries (executors or trustees) would serve in that capacity.

Nevertheless, it is important that you update your will after your divorce to reflect your current wishes.

Your will is something that should change as your life does. Otherwise, it can become an outdated document that doesn’t accomplish your goals or protect the loved ones you leave behind.

This article was initially published on September 27, 2010, and updated on January 5, 2021.

About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

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  3. Lanette Fox

    November 15, 2016 at 6:16pm

    Suppose you were married over 50 years and decided you want your ex-spouse to still inherit everything? Can you rewrite your will to that effect?

    1. Rania Combs

      November 30, 2016 at 3:53pm

      A Will executed after a divorce can specify that an ex-spouse will be the beneficiary of your estate.