A great many Tennessee residents will go through at least one divorce during the course of their lives. Many will walk away from that experience and cut all ties with their former spouse. Others will maintain a civil discourse with their ex, often for the purpose of raising shared children. Some might even remain friends after the dust has settled and the ink has dried. Very few, however, will intentionally leave an inheritance to their former husband or wife, although that is an outcome that can occur if the proper precautions are not taken.
After a divorce, many people will make changes to their will to prevent their former spouse from inheriting their assets or property. However, not everyone is aware that there are other measures that must also be taken. Any account that has a named beneficiary will become the property of the beneficiary upon the death of the account holder. This transfer takes place outside of the probate process and will happen in a very short timeframe following a death.
Accounts that have beneficiary designations include bank accounts, investments accounts, some retirement savings, pensions and other types of government benefits. Life insurance is another commonly overlooked asset. The person named on these types of accounts will inherit the wealth held within, no matter what the will or other estate planning documents say.
In order to prevent one's former spouse from receiving an unintentional inheritance, Tennessee residents must take the time to review all of their assets, including old pensions and rarely used accounts. Reviewing the beneficiary information on those accounts and making any necessary changes can save loved ones a lot of time, stress and expense in the event of the death of the account holder. Remaining friendly with a former spouse is always a good thing, but leaving him or her a pension or investment fund is another thing entirely.
Source: USA Today, "Your ex could get rich if you don't update your beneficiaries", Jeff Reeves, Jan. 14, 2016