Is the will I signed about 17 years ago still valid, even though I have since divorced and remarried?
Yes, it is—and therein lays the problem. Seventeen years is a long time to go without updating an estate plan even if you were still married to him. I highly recommend seeing an attorney to review your estate plan for the following reasons:
1. The first thing you need to know is that wills or living trusts are not invalidated by the passage of time. They do not have expiration dates. Read the will carefully and see if there is anything in it you still want.
2. We know there is at least one beneficiary you don’t want anymore, namely, the man you divorced. To some extent, Illinois law comes to the rescue. By statute, divorce is treated like death. Your former husband is deemed to have pre-deceased you. So you do not need to be concerned about him taking through your will. The law was amended to include living trusts. If your former spouse is a beneficiary of your living trust he is deemed to have pre-deceased you by reason of the divorce.
3. He is deemed to have predeceased you for all purposes including provisions naming him executor or trustee.
4. But remember I said he can’t take through your will or trust.
a. If he is the named beneficiary on a life insurance policy or annuity or he is still a joint tenant on any asset then divorce does not nullify his claim. You ex-husband still has a valid claim. (The terms of the divorce decree may help but don’t count on it).
b. Divorce does not remove him from your property power of attorney or health care power of attorney.
c. Since divorce means your spouse is treated as having predeceased you, read the document carefully to see who is next in line. Make sure you still want the distribution pattern set forth in the old document.