How Marriage and Divorce Affect Your Living Trust

Unlike a Will, marriage and divorce do not automatically affect or change the terms of your Living Trust. Consequently, if you divorce your spouse, any planned distributions to your spouse included in your Living Trust will still be given effect unless you amend your Living Trust, revoke it,  or have a new one prepared. Likewise, if your Living Trust names your spouse as a Successor Trustee, you'll need to change your Living Trust if you no longer want your ex-spouse to serve in this capacity. Also, if you and your spouse prepared a joint Living Trust, both (or either) spouses should revoke the trust and have new, individual Living Trusts prepared.

Similarly, if you become married after your Living Trust is executed, your new spouse will not automatically receive a distribution under your Living Trust unless he/she was already named therein as a beneficiary. Consequently, if you wish to make a distribution to your new spouse, you will need to either amend your Living Trust or prepare a new one.

Bear in mind, however, that regardless of whether your Living Trust includes a distribution to your spouse, all spouses in West Virginia (barring a prenuptial or post nuptial agreement) are legally entitled to -- at a minimum -- up to ½ of the augmented estate (which can include property transferred to a revocable Living Trust). To learn more about special rules that limit how little you may leave to a spouse, click here.