In this article...

Watch Our Video
Eugene Nassif

Do you need to change your will and other estate documents following your divorce to keep your ex-spouse from receiving anything? In this article, we discuss what to do with your estate plan after going through a divorce to ensure that your assets are still protected. We cover the following questions about divorce and estate planning:

  • What is protected in my Iowa estate plan when I get a divorce?
  • Do I need to update any information following my divorce?


Divorce in and of itself is a very difficult process. During your marriage, you and your spouse have likely become intertwined financially.Additionally, you may have undergone estate planning, drafting a will that includes your spouse in it. While it’s often overlooked in the divorce process, these documents are important to look at both during and following a divorce.

What is protected in my Iowa estate plan when I get a divorce?

Iowa does provide some legal protections to help those who have gotten divorces but have not properly update their estate plans. Most of the provisions simply allow portions of a will that had previously included your spouse to be ignored upon your passing following a legal divorce. Below are the Iowa Code Sections addressing estates and divorce:

  • Iowa Code section 633.271: This section provides that any provisions in your will that either name your ex-spouse as a beneficiary or appoint your ex-spouse to a fiduciary position following your passing is nullified.
  • Iowa Code section 598.20A: This section provides that if you list your ex-spouse or any of their relatives as your beneficiary of life insurance, the designation is nullified.
  • Iowa Code section 598.20B: This section provides that if you list your ex-spouse or any of their relatives as beneficiaries of your IRA, annuity, stock option plan, payable on death account, transfer on death registration, the designation will be nullified.
  • Iowa Code section 633B.10: This section provides that if you named your ex-spouse as an agent under your financial power of attorney, the power terminates when the petition for dissolution of marriage is filed.
  • Iowa Code section 144B.12: This section provides that, after divorce, if your medical power of attorney lists your ex-spouse, that authority is revoked.

Do I need to update any information following my divorce?

While the above Iowa laws do offer some reassurance and protections following a divorce, it’s best to update your documents following your divorce to avoid any potential issues with your estate.

Some major areas to update following a divorce include:

  • Updating your healthcare directives: This is often overlooked by people getting divorces. Should some life changing injury cause you to be incapacitated, you want someone you trust to handle your medical treatment. It’s important to go over these documents to ensure your ex-spouse is taken off of the document and replaced with someone you trust.
  • Updating your Power of Attorney: This is another document that couples often have during a marriage but is overlooked upon divorce. Should you have drafted a power of attorney, it will be important for you to contact your attorney to have new documents drafted and executed.
  • Updating your will: If your ex-spouse and/or an y f their relatives are listed in your will either to administer the estate or be named beneficiaries, you will want to update your will. While you can’t prevent your ex-spouse from things like being a named guardian of children you had together, you can make changes to prevent potential issues with your estate and its execution upon your passing.
  • Update your trust:  If you created a trust during your marriage, you may have included your ex-spouse and/or family of theirs in the trust. You may want to consider provisions changing the trustees named or the trust or if it is your ex-spouse.


While there are protections under Iowa law, it’s important to update your estate documents following a divorce to avoid uncertainty and ensure people you choose are named and have control over your estate upon your passing.


Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


Get my FREE E-Book

Similar Articles

Learn about Law