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Changing Your New York Will After “Gray” Divorce


In days past, it was much more common for people to remain married until the end of their lives, whether out of love, loyalty, or an inability to escape. Nowadays, so-called ‘gray divorce’ is more common in the United States, with the rate for those over age 50 remaining high in recent years while the rate for younger couples has dropped. That said, there are unique considerations that older people must consider after a divorce – most importantly to do with their estate planning.

State Law Automatically Erases Bequests

‘Gray’ divorces almost always involve a couple that has been married for many years, as opposed to a younger couple that may have called it quits much more quickly. What this means is that very often, the older couple will have more assets, requiring more time and trouble to divide. During this period, it can be all too easy to forget to update your estate plan – and yet, New York law will unilaterally alter your estate plan in the event of a divorce.

One of the most important documents affected is your Last Will & Testament. New York law holds that if your will was executed at a time when you were married, and you made bequests to your then-spouse, those bequests will be voided in the event of a divorce. This does not invalidate the will, unlike in many other states, but it does invalidate any bequest you made to your spouse at the time.

Why Update My Will?

This may seem like a relatively small concern at the time of your divorce, particularly if the proceedings are amicable. However, if you do not revisit your will after your divorce is final, it can lead to your assets going toward people you may not wish to have them.

If the bequest is invalidated, the asset (and any others in the same position) will likely form the nucleus of a probate estate after your passing. Probate is the procedure by which a deceased person’s assets are passed down to their heirs – but the process can be quite complex and take quite a lot of time. Transferring assets to named beneficiaries can often be done without probate, saving considerable expense and trouble.

Contact A Pleasantville or Mahopac Estate Planning Attorney

If you are going through a divorce later on in life, it can be all too tempting to let your estate plan fall by the wayside. However, doing that can lead to serious trouble down the road. A Westchester County or Putnam County estate planning attorney from Meyer & Spencer, P.C. can help answer your questions about ensuring that all your documents are in order, while you focus on the changes happening in your life. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.




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