Last article I addressed what would happen if your Will leaves everything to your spouse, but you later divorce and do not change the Will. Idaho law prohibits an ex-spouse from receiving assets just because he or she was named in a Will created prior to the divorce. However, this law does not mean you can rely on the State of Idaho to protect you from estate planning problems when there has been a divorce.
Take the following example: A divorce decree awards “the home” to the ex-wife but does not identify the home by legal description or address. Nothing in the document allows an outsider to know which property is “the home.”
If the decree does not specifically identify the property to go to the ex-wife, the deed is still the only document that determines who has legal ownership. However, it still shows both parties as the owners of the home!
Years go by and the ex-husband passes away. If the ex-wife wishes to pass on the home to someone at her death, she may have a very difficult time doing so. As far as anyone can tell, the ex-husband still shows up as a co-owner on the deed.
This problem could have been fixed at the time the decree was issued, or at least while the ex-husband was still alive. But as life goes on, and circumstances change, those options disappear.
There may be a way to still accomplish her wishes, but it will be much more difficult and expensive. When there is a major event in your life or the life of your family, it is important to see what impact it will have on your estate plan. Otherwise, the result may be very different from what you intended. Do not rely on the government’s rules to address your particular circumstances. Act now to create your own rules.
Come to a free presentation to find out how to ensure your wishes will be carried out at your passing.