If you are facing divorce, or are divorced, you need to take a close look at your estate planning documents to ensure that your wishes are carried out. Wills executed prior to January 1, 1997 are revoked under Connecticut law if the testator of the will is subsequently divorced. C.G.S. § 45a-257e. This severe result under Connecticut law could have drastic consequences to your carefully constructed estate plan.
Under these circumstances, your estate would be distributed under intestate law, which may not coincide with your wishes. Another consequence is the additional expense and delay in petitioning the Probate Court to have an administrator appointed. This Court appointed administrator may very well end up being an individual you do not want handling your financial affairs.
Although wills executed on and after January 1, 1997 will not be revoked by subsequent divorce, part of your estate could still pass under intestate law if the provisions of your will fail to provide for an alternate beneficiary. C.G.S. 45a-257f. In addition, property that does not pass pursuant to your will may require a change of beneficiary to ensure that your ex-spouse is not an accidental beneficiary to the detriment of your loved ones.
A necessary step of the divorce process, although often overlooked, is a systematic review of your estate planning and beneficiary documents. By carefully reviewing your estate planning documents with your attorney, you can ensure the distribution of your assets according to your wishes.
Simon J. Lebo, Esq.
Brown, Paindiris & Scott, LLP