If you get divorced and you do not update your estate plan, things can get very complicated indeed. It's important to go over your paperwork carefully if you and your spouse decide to split up.
To see how complicated it can get, consider one woman's example. She got divorced and her ex had a heart condition that no doctors had noticed. He died unexpectedly. After they ended their marriage, he did not update any part of his estate plan.
Now, technically, that meant that she was listed in his plan as the beneficiary and executor. However, the court cut her out and made his brother the estate executor instead, assuming he wouldn't want her to have that job.
"In most states, the law sort of acts as though the former spouse has died," noted one expert.
However, she would still have inherited his assets. With her out of the picture, that did not mean the assets went to his brother. He had a closer blood relation: The couple's daughter. She inherited everything, even though her mother played no part in the process, and her uncle had to sort it all out.
This can get even more controversial in cases with young children. If assets pass directly to a minor, how much control will the ex really have over those assets? Is the child ready or willing to handle it?
There are a lot of questions to ask, but they can all be avoided. Just make sure you look into all of the steps you need to take to update that plan as part of your divorce, and you can get it set up along with everything else.