Updating your estate plan after divorce

Ending a marriage and creating two new, independent futures can feel like a daunting task. From determining support amounts to dividing assets and debts, the divorcing couple can feel overwhelmed at every stage of the process. For this reason, many couples forget to take the time to update their wills, trusts and any other estate planning documents after the divorce.

A comprehensive estate plan typically covers a significant amount of ground. From deciding who gets what assets from the estate to determining who will become guardians of minor children should the parents die unexpectedly, there are numerous factors to consider. The end of the marriage generally signifies changing relationships and changing priorities. It is wise to thoroughly examine and revise these three things:

  • The will: It is likely that you named your spouse as the primary heir across all assets from vehicles to the home. Certain elements of your estate will likely be altered through divorce anyway – you might sell the house and split the profits – and the will needs to be updated accordingly.
  • Powers of attorney: When creating your estate plan, you would have designated an individual to make financial and medical decisions should you lose the capacity to do so on your own. Many people name their spouse for one or both roles. After a divorce, however, it might be wise to reevaluate this position.
  • Updated beneficiaries: While not technically part of the estate plan, it is wise to examine other places your ex-spouse might be mentioned. A life insurance policy, for example, medical insurance or retirement funds might all have you ex listed. When necessary, it makes sense to select a new beneficiary.

While these are important factors, the revisions should not stop there. It is wise to seek the guidance of an experienced legal professional who can help you revise your estate plan once the divorce is finalized.

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