The importance of changing your will after a divorce

01 September 2023 ,  Crystelle Steyn 115

A divorce is mostly a very stressful and life changing event that often brings about significant changes both emotional and financially, but many people tend to overlook an essential aspect of their post-divorce planning: updating their will.

A will outlines how a person's assets and estate should be distributed to their loved ones upon their passing. Failing to revise a will after a divorce may lead to unintended consequences, disputes, and a departure from the individual's true wishes.

When a couple decides to divorce, their life circumstances and priorities change significantly. Often, the beneficiaries, executors, and guardians listed in a will are closely tied to the person's former spouse and their family and failing to update your will upon divorce might result that your former spouse will still benefit from you even if it was not your actual wish.

A very important aspect to understand is that a divorce does not change your will. Although you have decided on how you share your joint estate during your divorce regarding your assets etc. it does not overrule the will you signed in which you let your former spouse inherit everything or a portion from you and they will still benefit when you pass on even if you are divorced.

In our law the Court will only allow a grace period of 3 months after a divorce to change your will, and should you fail to update your will within the grace period, your last will are still valid and the provisions set out therein. This means that should you pass on within 3 months after your divorce and did not update your will, the Court may consider the fact that you are divorced and your intent might have been to change your will, however it will not be the case after the 3-month period and your former spouse will still be able to inherit from you.

Divorce is a life-altering event that requires comprehensive adjustments to various aspects of one's life, including estate planning. When seeking legal advice regarding your divorce, make sure that you also seek assistance in your estate planning going forward and the changes that need to happen after your divorce.