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Post-Divorce Matters: Beneficiary Designations After Divorce

Divorce is even more difficult because of its practical implications. One of the important issues is revising the important policies and documents to manifest your new status. This includes the housekeeping of finances and updating legal instruments.

In most cases, a person will name their spouse as their beneficiary. When a divorce takes place, it is only logical for them to want to change the designated beneficiary. It is crucial to know that beneficiaries can be changed either before the divorce or after its finalization only. The designations of beneficiaries cannot be changed during the pendency of the divorce proceedings.

Important Considerations

There are a few important things to take into consideration as you gather your finances and legal instruments. These include knowing what needs to be changed and the laws involved, among other things.

Documents to be Changed

Gather all the documents and policies wherein you have your spouse as your primary beneficiary.

  • Annuities
  • Retirement accounts
  • Pensions
  • Life insurance policies
  • Other accounts or plans
  • Savings or checking accounts
  • Time deposits
  • Mutual funds

Once you have gathered these documents, you can decide whether to change them or not. Discussing these accounts and policies with your divorce lawyer during the pendency of the divorce proceedings is important. Keeping records of revised beneficiary designations is important as they form part of your divorce files.

How Texas Law Works

There is an automatic removal of spouses as beneficiaries upon the finality of the divorce. If you forget to change your beneficiaries, your ex-spouse will not be able to inherit your assets upon your death. Absent any secondary or contingent beneficiary,  these assets will be inherited by your estate instead. If the division of your assets cannot be determined because you did not have an estate plan, the probate court shall determine the in accordance with Texas laws.

In conclusion, it is always a good move to assign a secondary beneficiary on all of these policies and accounts. If you forget to change your ex-spouse as the primary beneficiary, the secondary beneficiary will inherit the assets you left.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at timothy.hutton@austintexaslegal.com

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