When two people are married, they make many decisions with the belief that they will be together for the rest of their lives. When things do not work out, it is important to go through those decisions and make modifications. This is especially true when it comes to estate planning.
If you do not properly update your estate planning documents after a divorce, it can result in your ex receiving assets or controls that they should not have. If you are going through a divorce (or have recently gone through a divorce), make sure to consider the following six important tips:
Close Joint Documents
If you have a joint living trust or other document that both of you are listed on, it is often best to close (or dissolve) them completely. This will put you in a position where each of you can create individual documents based on your own wishes. Depending on the type of estate planning tools you have in place, it could have some tax or other legal implications. Make sure to speak with an attorney about the best way to separate these items during the divorce.
Updating Health Care Surrogates
Those who have a health care surrogate named (or a health care power of attorney) will often name their spouse as the primary option. In the event of a divorce, you will want to have that changed to someone else.
Update Powers of Attorney
Similar to the health care power of attorney, legal power of attorney is typically left to a spouse in estate planning documents. Choosing someone else to have powers of attorney should you become unable to make your own legal decisions is an important step after a divorce.
Make Changes to Beneficiaries
All of your assets will currently be directed toward your spouse if you should die. After the divorce, you may to want to distribute your assets differently. Make these changes immediately, or your ex could enjoy your 401(k) in the event of an untimely death.
Address Custody of Minor Children
If you have minor children, make sure you update your estate planning documents to reflect your wishes. While your ex-spouse will most likely be given custody, you can still make your desires known. You can also name who you would like to have custody of your children if your spouse is not an option.
Review Charitable Giving
If you have any type of charitable giving outlined in your estate plan, now is an ideal time to review it and make any desired changes. Your financial situation is also going to be significantly different after the divorce, so you may not have the extra resources in your estate to be able to give as you initially planned.
Work with an Estate Planning Attorney
Whenever making any type of changes to your estate plan, it is important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. Bedlam Law can help you create an estate plan, or modify an existing one. Please contact us to discuss your situation and see what we can do to assure your wishes are followed.