What Can Kanye West’s Divorce and Remarriage Teach Us About Estate Planning After Divorce?
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What Can Kanye West’s Divorce and Remarriage Teach Us About Estate Planning After Divorce?

How does divorce impact my Estate? What special considerations do I need to make with my Estate Plan after divorce? In this article, we'll discuss how divorce impacts Estate Plans and how to ensure that your Estate is up-to-date and valid!

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When Kanye West, also known as the rapper Ye, isn’t busy discussing the Holocaust or plotting his next run for president, he’s either getting married, getting divorced, or making an album. In today’s installment of What’s Ye Doing? we’re covering his recent marriage - or “marriage” as the case may be - and what it means for his estate plans.

Kanye West’s New Wife

With the ink barely dry on his divorce from Kim Kardashian, West has reportedly “married” an employee at Ye’s fashion design company. (You know, the company that makes oatmeal-colored shapeless hoodies that sell for $240 at The Gap). The unlucky woman is Bianca Censori. West has already honored his new woman with the song “Censori Overload.” (This lame joke from the brilliant mind behind “The College Dropout ''?! 2004 me would be so disappointed). In the song, West says “And The Bible said, 'I can’t have any more sex til marriage.” So I guess that settles it, the two needed to get married, stat! 

Censori and West held a commitment ceremony and have been wearing rings, but TMZ says they never filed for a marriage license. Since their ceremony, Censori has only been seen wearing a wrap around her head, with only her eyes visible. 

A marriage is only recognized by the legal system if the couple obtains a marriage license and then the state issues a marriage certificate after the ceremony is performed. The legalities may not matter to West and Censori, but they would matter a great deal if the singer passed away. If West died intestate, without a Will, then California law dictates that she would still be able to inherit a share of his very large estate. That means she would get all property that they share and up to one-third of West’s community property - potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. Maybe she’s a lucky woman after all! Of course if they are legally married, Censori might have signed a prenuptial agreement limiting her inheritance. But if they are NOT legally married, all bets are off and she would inherit nothing unless he already amended his Will to give Censori a bequest. Ouch!

Kanye West’s Divorce from Kim Kardashian

In November of 2022, West and Kim Kardashian officially divorced just before their case was scheduled to go to trial. The couple held around $70 million in community property. At the time that they filed for divorce in 2021, he was worth around $1 billion and his wife was worth around $800 million. Since then, West’s net worth dropped under a billion after major sponsors cut ties with him, while Kardashian officially became a billionaire. 

As part of their settlement, West pays $200,000 a month child support for their four kids. They will share joint custody. Kim and Kanye decided to split the tuition for private school and college 50/50, and also will split security expenses 50/50. Neither party is paying spousal support. 

How Divorce Impacts an Estate Plan

We don’t know anything about Kanye West’s official estate plan. However, when it comes to the costs of divorce and remarriage, West is in the same boat as everyone else. When you go through a divorce, it can have significant implications for your estate plan. Here are some key points for you, and Kanye West, to consider:

Revocation of Provisions: In most jurisdictions, divorce automatically revokes certain provisions in your estate plan that benefit your ex-spouse. This means that any provisions in your Will, trust, or other estate planning documents that name your ex-spouse as a beneficiary or executor are typically considered void. The law treats it as if your ex-spouse predeceased you.

Non-Probate Assets: It's important to note that divorce does not automatically revoke beneficiary designations on non-probate assets. Non-probate assets include life insurance policies, retirement accounts, payable-on-death bank accounts, and similar assets that pass outside of probate. If you named your ex-spouse as a beneficiary on any of these assets, they may still receive the assets unless you update the beneficiary designations.

Guardianship of Children: If you have minor children, your divorce may impact the guardianship arrangements specified in your estate plan. It's essential to review and update your documents to reflect your current wishes for the care of your children in case something happens to you.

Power of Attorney and Healthcare Directives: You may have appointed your ex-spouse as your power of attorney or designated them as your healthcare agent to make decisions on your behalf. After divorce, it is crucial to review and update these documents, ensuring that your ex-spouse's authority is revoked or modified as per your wishes.

How Remarriage Impacts an Estate Plan

Remarriage after a divorce can obviously have significant implications for your estate plan. Here are some key points for you and West to consider:

Beneficiary Designations: If you have named your new spouse as a beneficiary on non-probate assets like life insurance policies, retirement accounts, or payable-on-death bank accounts, those designations will generally take precedence over any conflicting provisions in your estate planning documents. It's important to review and update beneficiary designations to ensure they reflect your current wishes. In Kanye’s case, if he does not update his beneficiary designations, Kim Kardashian will still inherit if he passes away.

Updating Wills and Trusts: Remarriage often requires updating your Will or trust to include your new spouse and potentially address any children from previous relationships. You may want to revise distribution plans, appoint new executors or trustees, and ensure that your estate plan reflects your blended family dynamics.

Providing for Children: If you have children from a previous relationship, remarriage can raise concerns about how your assets will be distributed between your new spouse and your children. You may need to consider setting up trusts or other mechanisms to ensure your children are adequately provided for while still taking care of your new spouse. If West has more children with Censori or another woman, he would be smart to review what happened when Michael Crichton failed to add his soon-to-be-born son to his Will before he passed away.

Powers of Attorney and Healthcare Directives: If you have healthcare surrogates (people who you appoint to make medical treatment decisions in your advanced directive or Living Will), these documents should not be overlooked. It's important to review and update these documents to reflect your current wishes, especially if your ex-spouse remains on that paperwork. Review these documents to make sure that your new spouse or other person who you trust is designated accordingly.

Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements: This one is particularly important for Kanye West. If you have entered into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with your new spouse, it may contain provisions that affect your estate plan. These agreements often specify how assets will be divided upon divorce or death, and they may override certain default rules or expectations.

The bottom line is that when you divorce and remarry, this should trigger you to review all of your estate planning documents ASAP. Don’t assume that your new wishes will be honored if you haven’t updated the legal documentation to reflect changes in family structure.

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