2021 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 854 - Transfers at death — general rules.
854.15 - Revocation of provisions in favor of former spouse or former domestic partner.

Universal Citation: WI Stat § 854.15 (2021)

854.15 Revocation of provisions in favor of former spouse or former domestic partner.

(1) Definitions. In this section:

(a) “Disposition of property" means a transfer, including by appointment, of property or any other benefit to a beneficiary designated in a governing instrument.

(b) “Divorce, annulment or similar event" means any of the following:

1. A divorce, annulment, or other event or proceeding that would exclude a spouse as a surviving spouse under s. 851.30.

2. A termination of a domestic partnership or other event or proceeding that would exclude a person as a surviving domestic partner under s. 851.295.

(c) “Former spouse" means a person whose marriage to the decedent or domestic partnership with the decedent has been the subject of a divorce, annulment or similar event.

(d) “Relative of the former spouse" means an individual who is related to the former spouse by blood, adoption or marriage and who, after the divorce, annulment or similar event, is not related to the decedent by blood, adoption or marriage.

(2) Scope. This section applies only to governing instruments that were executed by the decedent before the occurrence of a divorce, annulment or similar event with respect to his or her marriage to the former spouse.

(3) Revocation upon divorce. Except as provided in subs. (5) and (6), a divorce, annulment or similar event does all of the following:

(a) Revokes any revocable disposition of property made by the decedent to the former spouse or a relative of the former spouse in a governing instrument.

(b) Revokes any disposition created by law to the former spouse or a relative of the former spouse.

(c) Revokes any revocable provision made by the decedent in a governing instrument conferring a power of appointment on the former spouse or a relative of the former spouse.

(d) Revokes the decedent's revocable nomination of the former spouse or a relative of the former spouse to serve in any fiduciary or representative capacity.

(e) Severs the interests of the decedent and former spouse in property held by them as joint tenants with the right of survivorship or as survivorship marital property and transforms the interests of the decedent and former spouse into tenancies in common.

(4) Effect of revocation. Except as provided in subs. (5) and (6), provisions of a governing instrument that are revoked by this section are given effect as if the former spouse and relatives of the former spouse disclaimed the revoked provisions or, in the case of a revoked nomination in a fiduciary or representative capacity, as if the former spouse and relatives of the former spouse died immediately before the divorce, annulment or similar event.

(5) Exceptions.

(am) This section does not apply if any of the following applies:

1. The express terms of a governing instrument provide otherwise.

2. The express terms of a court order provide otherwise.

3. The express terms of a contract relating to the division of the decedent's and former spouse's property made between the decedent and the former spouse before or after the marriage or the divorce, annulment or similar event provide otherwise.

4. The divorce, annulment or similar event is nullified.

5. The decedent and the former spouse have remarried or entered into a new domestic partnership before the death of the decedent.

(bm) If the transfer is made under a governing instrument and the person who executed the governing instrument had an intent contrary to any provision in this section, then that provision is inapplicable to the transfer. Extrinsic evidence may be used to construe the intent.

(6) Revocation of nontestamentary provision in marital property agreement. The effect of a judgment of annulment, divorce or legal separation on marital property agreements under s. 766.58 is governed by s. 767.375 (1).

History: 1997 a. 188; 2005 a. 216; 2005 a. 443 s. 265; 2009 a. 28.

Retroactive application of sub. (3) (a) is constitutional. Allstate Life Insurance Co. v. Hanson, 200 F. Supp. 2d 1012 (2002).

New Probate Code Affects Estate Planning at Divorce. Hughes. Wis. Law. March 1999.

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