Explaining Divorce And The Effects On Your Estate Plan Part 1

Despite everyone’s best intentions, many marriages unfortunately end in divorce. The standing divorce rate for first-time spouses hovers around 50 percent, while those that remarry face worse odds. There are many strategies available to help mediate spousal conflicts before resorting to divorce, but when there are no other options, most adults are left with a list of important things to get done. Estate law, for example, requires documentation to be up to date and accurate for proper processing. Failing to change your wills, trusts, and other essential components of your estate plan can result in serious headaches later on, making it highly advisable to seek out an experienced and reliable expert for assistance.

Our Bethesda estate planning attorneys cannot claim to be divorce counselors, and if you have started the separation process, it’s important to update your estate plan. All-too-often, people become too caught up in the task of dealing with loved ones, friends, family members, and coworkers to consider their trusts and estates. JDKatz is here to serve as your trusted estate lawyers in Maryland and D.C., delivering comprehensive legal services to ensure that your loved ones and estate are covered regardless of your condition. We’ll work hard to develop a personalized plan for your estate, covering every detail and scenario to create an airtight strategy. This support can be essential for those currently going through a divorce.

Today, we’ll highlight a few key components of your estate plan that can be disrupted when legally separating from your spouse. Read more and be sure to call us for help if you are worried about the condition of your estate!

Determining Ownership of Property

Marriage is the unity of people and property, forming a complete union until death. It will be important for divorcing couples to go through their assets and determine ownership. Remember that dividing the cars, properties, and valuables are the physical parts of your estate. Other property includes stocks, life insurance policies, pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s, and more. There will be a lot to consider as you go through this process that can prove intensive for couples on good terms. To begin, you will need to determine what qualifies as separate property and what is considered marital property:

  • Separate property is pretty straightforward, as this term applies to any property you acquired before or after the marriage. Any item or inheritance received during these periods will likely remain in your sole possession in the eyes of the court.
  • Marital property extends to cover any property collected while married. This designation normally applies regardless of who technically owns the property. Even if the family sedan is titled in your name, it will often be designated as mutual ownership.

Often, couples that decide to divorce do so after lengthy remedial efforts. This regularly leads to tension and conflict, especially when it comes to ownership of property. Prenuptial agreements, special provisions, and laws crossing state lines can make this part of divorce complex, making it essential for you to be in the loop and ready with your assets. Our estate planning attorneys are here and ready to help develop a comprehensive strategy that optimizes your outcome during this tough time.


The last will and testament should be at the core of your estate plan, leaving designations and instructions for the handling of your assets when you are deceased. If your will is kept up to date, be sure to update it as soon as the divorce is finalized to create the best continuity for your estate and minimize legal complications.

Estate law in Maryland varies on many points compared to Washington, D.C. Always be sure to check with your local estate attorneys for assistance in navigating the field of estate law!


Here in Bethesda, a legal divorce revokes all provisions of your will relating to a former spouse. This means that your will and estate will remain intact, and any designations to your ex will be neutralized. Maryland residents often feel privileged to live in a state that is more relaxed when it comes to keeping their estate plan up to date. If you have special provisions that are meant to remain valid, be sure to include these directives in the divorce decree or make the designation in your updated will.


Many D.C. residents may be surprised to learn that a divorce and the subsequent settling of property ownership actually invalidates their will. Regardless of your personal situation, the District of Columbia will revoke your will entirely. This makes it essential for all separating adults to follow up with their estate planning attorney in D.C. to create a new will to cover your wishes and designations. Citizens that had a well-written will that do not draft a new version run the risk of dying intestate, or without a will. This will put your property at the mercy of the probate court.

Estate law varies across state lines, making it important for divorcing couples to seek out professional help in ensuring continuity for their separate estates. Next time, we’ll continue discussing the importance of updating your trusts and beneficiary designations. If you’re currently facing the divorce process and are looking for a qualified estate lawyer in Maryland, our team of experts are here and ready to help. JDKatz is here to deliver full-quality service when helping in the process of creating or updating your estate plan. Contact us today to learn more!