The Gray Divorce Podcast: Episode 38 Estate Planning and Gray Divorce with Attorney Amanda Wedl

Andrew Hatherley |

In Episode 38 of The Gray Divorce Podcast, Andrew chats with estate planning attorney Amanda Wedl. They discuss the topic of estate planning and gray divorce.  

What happens when one of the divorcing parties dies shortly after the divorce or even during the divorce? Estate planning or, at a minimum, beneficiary designations, are something every late-life divorcee should consider. 

Among the topics covered: 

  • A basic discussion of what estate planning is. 

  • What can be done during the divorce process about estate planning for those people who haven't done any estate planning. 

  • For those people who have an estate plan, for instance, a Trust, what can and should be done during the divorce. 

  • What happens to the trust after the divorce. 


Some best practices a person should do regarding their estate planning after divorce and some pitfalls or land mines. 

  • The importance of taking your divorce decree to an estate planning attorney to address your new estate plan. 

  • Don't allow your state to plan for you. Be proactive. 


Automatic revocation statutes 

Application upon divorce statutes are meant to protect what might simply be an oversight in not updating your beneficiaries after dealing with the emotional trauma of divorce. 

More than 40 states have some type of revocation upon divorce statute that impacts beneficiaries. 

Of those 40 states, 26 automatically revoke a spouse as a beneficiary in the event of divorce. 

Warning! Automatic beneficiary revocation laws are not effective for ERISA plans (like 401ks) and federal life insurance and retirement benefits. In these cases, pre-divorce designations typically remain in place until you change them - no matter what state you live in. 

Kennedy versus DuPont Savings and Investment Plan is a good case illustration of the need to follow plan documents for defined contribution plans when updating beneficiary designations after divorce.