Divorce and Your Estate Plan
When going through a divorce, it is vital to know how it will affect your estate planning documents, such as your will, trust, life insurance, etc. For example, does divorce make your will or trust null and void, or does it only nullify any provisions relating to your spouse? Can you change your beneficiary on your life insurance policies? If you don’t change the beneficiary after the divorce is final, can your spouse still collect the life insurance proceeds?
Virginia Code and Divorce Decree Language
Because some of these answers are not clear and the answer can depend on many factors, Virginia enacted § 20-111.1 of the Code of Virginia which now requires the following language be in every Final Decree of Divorce
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Beneficiary designations for any death benefit, as defined in subsection B of § 20-111.1 of the Code of Virginia, made payable to a former spouse may or may not be automatically revoked by operation of law upon the entry of a final decree of annulment or divorce. If a party intends to revoke any beneficiary designation made payable to a former spouse following the annulment or divorce, the party is responsible for following any and all instructions to change such beneficiary designation given by the provider of the death benefit. Otherwise, existing beneficiary designations may remain in full force and effect after the entry of a final decree of annulment or divorce.