In Georgia, an important task to undertake after your divorce is revising your will to make sure it is in line with your intent. I recently read an article that described how Amy Winehouse’s revised will left everything to her parents and brother, rather than to her ex-husband. Amy Winehouse got her will right, by Karen Datko, July 27, 2011. English law states that divorce does not “undo the presumption that the natural inheritor is the spouse,” and “[e]ven in the presence of a will written pre-marriage which states otherwise the surviving spouse, or ex-spouse, will again be the natural inheritor.” Id. Thus, if she had not revised her will, her former spouse likely would have inherited everything.
This is not the case in Georgia. Under Georgia law, “all provisions of a will made prior to a testator’s final divorce or the annulment of the testator’s marriage in which no provision is made in contemplation of such event shall take effect as if the former spouse had predeceased the testator…” OCGA §53-4-49. Thus, if a person divorces and then dies without changing his/her will, the ex-spouse will not inherit under the language of the will, and the person next in line to inherit will do so (so long as that person is not a descendant of the ex-spouse who is not also a descendant of the testator). Keep in mind this statute only applies after the divorce is final. Even with this safeguard in place, however, it is still important to review your will after your divorce to make sure the terms are still in line with your intent. Many things in your life will have changed post-divorce so it is very possible that you would not want the next person in line to inherit – particularly if it is a friend or relative of your former spouse. I would recommend revising it to remove the former spouse, just so there is no ambiguity.