Divorce and Estate Planning in Texas

Estate Planning in Texas

Divorce is a significant life event that brings about emotional and financial changes, impacting more than just one's marital status. Among the numerous adjustments, one critical area that often gets overlooked during and after divorce proceedings is estate planning. In Texas, where state laws uniquely influence estate planning and probate processes, understanding how divorce affects your estate plan is crucial for protecting your assets and ensuring your wishes are honored. Documents that once reflected your wishes during marriage may no longer be appropriate or valid once a divorce is finalized. Here’s how divorce can affect key components of your estate plan:

Wills and Trusts

In Texas, divorce automatically nullifies any provisions in your will or trust that favor your former spouse, unless explicitly stated otherwise (Texas Estates Code § 123.001). This means that if you pass away without updating your will post-divorce, Texas law will treat it as though your ex-spouse predeceased you. However, this doesn’t mean the rest of your estate plan remains unaffected. It’s essential to review and possibly revise your will to ensure it reflects your current intentions and family dynamics.

Beneficiary Designations

Texas is a "revocation upon divorce" state. This means that divorce automatically revokes any beneficiary designation in favor of a former spouse in certain types of financial accounts and life insurance policies, unless the governing instrument says otherwise or there are specific exceptions (Family Code § 9.301). This is part of Texas's broader legal framework to protect individuals from unintentionally benefiting an ex-spouse after a divorce. If, after the divorce, the individual still wants their former spouse to be a beneficiary, they must re-designate the ex-spouse as such. This requires taking action to formally reinstate the ex-spouse as a beneficiary in accordance with the policies of the financial institution or insurance company. It is imperative to reevaluate and amend these designations to align with your current wishes.

Powers of Attorney and Healthcare Directives

If your estate plan includes a durable power of attorney or a medical power of attorney naming your ex-spouse as the agent, divorce nullifies their authority in Texas (Texas Estates Code § 752.051). Despite this automatic revocation, it’s wise to affirmatively update these documents to appoint someone you trust to make financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf if you're unable to do so.

Guardianship and Trusts for Minors

If you have minor children, your estate plan likely includes provisions for their guardianship in the event of your death. While divorce does not impact the other parent's legal rights, it's important to revisit these provisions. Consider who would be the guardian if both biological parents were to pass away, ensuring this choice reflects your current preferences. Additionally, if you're concerned about your ex-spouse managing inherited assets for your children, setting up a trust can provide an alternative means of managing those assets with a trustee you designate.


Divorce signifies a pivotal point for reevaluating and updating your estate plan to reflect your new life circumstances. Divorce profoundly impacts estate planning, therefore, taking proactive steps to review and amend your plan is crucial. By doing so, you ensure that your assets are protected, your wishes are respected, and your loved ones are cared for according to your current intentions.

Given the complexities of Texas law and the nuances of individual circumstances, consulting with an estate planning attorney who understands the intricacies of Texas probate law and can provide tailored advice is invaluable. 

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