Modifying a Texas Estate Plan in the Wake of Marital Dissolution

Because many marriages end in divorce, it is important to understand the benefits of a marital settlement agreement as well as the impact of divorce on the terms of a will. Many people continue to view prenuptial agreements as an unromantic partial commitment to the permanence of marriage. When either party to a marriage has children from a prior relationship, however, a prenuptial agreement is essential to ensure that children from the prior relationship, one’s current spouse and children from a pending marriage are provided for according to your intentions.

The process of providing for children from a prior relationship is easier when the parties to a marriage are on good terms than during the conflict that accompanies the divorce process. Most people would never consider entering into a business partnership without a partnership agreement which delineates that assets contributed by both parties, ownership shares and provisions for winding down the partnership, a marriage is a partnership that is more extensive than a business partnership. A prenuptial agreement is an important estate planning tool that ensures there is an agreement between marital partners about how these issues will be handled upon divorce.

Another important issue to consider if you are facing a pending divorce is the impact of that marital dissolution on your will. Under Texas Probate Code §69, the spouse from a marriage that ends in divorce is treated as though the former spouse pre-deceased the person whose will is being administered. In other words, all provisions for a former spouse in a will are invalidated under Texas law upon dissolution of the marriage. This means that if a person wishes to include provisions that benefit a former spouse in terms of testamentary gifts, the will must be revised to reflect these gifts following the divorce.

When both parties have prior marriages or children from other relationships, a carefully prepared estate plan can be essential to providing for those from multiple relationships. An estate plan should never be viewed as a finished product but an ongoing plan that must be revised with significant life changes including remarriage, birth of new children and divorce. Texas estate planning attorney Thomas D. Reino keeps in contact with estate planning clients so that he can periodically review their changing needs and inform them of changes in the law that impact their estate plan.

At our Arlington estate planning law firm, Mr. Reino carefully evaluates your estate to create an estate plan that is appropriate for your specific situation. If you have questions or need estate planning documents prepared, we invite you to contact us at 817.303.2133 or send us an email at tom@tomreinolaw.com so that you can set up an initial consultation.

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