If a divorce wasn’t so complicated, especially financially speaking, more people would probably get a divorce. When spouses dissolve their marriage, they have to figure out what to do with their auto loans, mortgage, joint credit cards, real estate property, investments, retirement accounts and so on. Understandably, it can all get overwhelming.
If you’re going through a divorce, you’re probably concerned about dividing your assets and debts according to California’s community property laws, or in an otherwise fair manner. The estate planning documents you drafted when you first got married – are probably the last thing on your mind.
So, what about that rental property you owned before the marriage? The one that you bequeathed to your spouse should you pass away? What about the other property you left to your spouse in the will? Do you have to run to the estate planning attorney’s office right away to revoke the will? Or, is there a California law somewhere that automatically disinherits your spouse upon a divorce?
California Probate Code Section 6122
Under California Probate Code Section 6122, if you write a will leaving property to your spouse and you get a divorce, any gifts made to them will be automatically revoked, unless you were very specific and stated otherwise. Even though that’s the law, we do not recommend relying on it because unintended consequences could result.
Instead of leaving a former spouse in your will, you should revoke the will and create a new one that reflects your current wishes. Otherwise, you’re leaving room for uncertainty and possibly a will contest. If you’d rather that property goes to your children, you don’t want to set them up for a possible lawsuit with your former spouse. Or, if you want that property to go to a close friend or a favorite charity, you’ll have to write a new will to ensure that happens. When revoking your original will, be sure to destroy it by literally tearing it up or using a shredder.