Divorce and Its Impact on Your Will

Most people get married believing wholeheartedly that they will stay together with their new spouse until death parts them. With this optimistic state of mind many newlyweds execute a will naming their new spouse as their sole heir, stick the document in a safe deposit box, and put the will and its contents out of their mind. But what happens if later on down the road the once optimistic newlywed gets divorced and fails to alter the will that leaves everything to their now ex-spouse? The answer to this question varies a bit depending on which state you live in, but this important question is answered below in accordance with Michigan law.

Getting Divorced Can Void Provisions of Your Will

If a married person dies intestate (i.e. without a valid will) Michigan's intestate succession laws provide that the decedent's surviving spouse is entitled to inherit 100 percent of the probate estate, provided that the decedent does not leave behind any descendants or parents. If the decedent is survived by a descendant and/or a parent then the surviving spouse's share of the estate will be decreased in accordance with Michigan's intestate succession laws. The key point here is that the law provides for the surviving spouse when a married person dies without a will because it is assumed that the decedent would have named their spouse in their will had they executed one. Furthermore, the law also assumes that when a divorced individual dies he/she does not wish to provide for their ex-spouse.

In a nutshell, code section 700.2807 of the Michigan Compiled Laws states that, unless expressly stated otherwise, any gift left to an ex-spouse in an otherwise valid will is automatically void upon the couple's divorce. In other words, if you execute a will during the course of your marriage that leaves all or part of your estate to your spouse and you forget to change the terms of your will after you get divorced then the provisions that leave gifts to your ex-spouse will generally be considered void. However, it is important to note that this area of the law can be quite complicated and that it is much safer to simply alter your will after you get divorced in order to accurately reflect your new intentions.

Contact Us Today for Help


Getting divorced comes with a host of legal ramifications beyond simply dissolving your marriage. Many of these legal consequences, for example the impact that divorce can have on your will, are not immediately obvious and will likely not become apparent until long after your divorce is finalized. Therefore, in order to best avoid being blindsided by these legal matters later on down the road, be sure to discuss the various legal ramifications of getting divorced in Michigan with a local divorce attorney as soon as possible. To contact experienced family law attorney Michael A. Robbins give our Bloomfield Hills office a call today at (248) 646-7980.