If you get divorced in Arkansas, some of your estate planning documents will change automatically unless you plan around it. When most people are getting divorced, they never consider changing their estate plan, but they should. If an accident were to happen you would want to make sure the proper documents were in place. The proper documents being in place allows you to decide who gets to make decisions for you when you are incapacitated. Always list successor agents for your Power of Attorney and Healthcare Power of Attorney to ensure someone you choose can assist you in your time of need. This is how a divorce can change your estate planning documents:
If you make a Will and leave everything to your spouse, as most people do, and then a decree is entered (it is finalized) either divorcing or annulling the marriage. As a matter of law all of the provisions in the Will that reference your now ex-spouse are revoked (Unless you were disinheriting he or she in the first place). This means the Will is still valid and all other provisions still stand. The Will will be effective as if the provisions mentioning your spouse were not in the document.
The Takeaway: As soon as the marriage is legally ended, your ex-spouse is out of your Will.
Ark. Code Ann. § 28-25-109 – Revocation of wills.
When you are considering divorce in Arkansas the actions you take can have some impacts on your estate planning documents. The changes can happen automatically at different times and to different documents depending on what type of action is filed (divorce, annulment, legal separation, etc.). A divorce can be very difficult and most people are thinking about changing their estate plan, although they should be. You can make sure your documents provide for you in this situation. Nobody wants legal issue upon legal issue piling up during trying times. Here is a list of how some estate planing documents are changed:
Your Power of Attorney:
If your spouse is your Power of Attorney, then as soon as an action is filed (this means the petition is filed in court, it does not have to be finalized) for the dissolution, annulment, or legal separation of your marriage your spouse’s power as your agent terminates automatically. However, the Power of Attorney can provide for your spouse to continue as your agent and the relationship will stay in effect.
The Takeaway: As soon as you file a petition to change the status of your marriage your spouse’s power of attorney is revoked unless you specifically state otherwise. Make sure your documents name successors. You don’t need more problems on top of a divorce.
Ark. Code Ann. § 28-68-110 – Termination of power of attorney or agent’s authority.
Your Healthcare Power of Attorney:
When a decree of annulment, divorce, dissolution of marriage, or legal separation is entered it revokes the previous designation of your spouse as your healthcare agent unless otherwise specified in the decree or in an advance directive.
The Takeaway: As soon as the marriage is legally changed, the healthcare power of attorney is revoked unless you specifically state otherwise. Name successors so you can control who is making healthcare decisions for you.
Ark. Code Ann. § 20-6-104 – Revocation of the designation of agent – Revocation of advance directive — Spouse as agent – Conflicts.