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3 estate plan changes to make when you get divorced

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2021 | Estate Planning |

Estate planning helps you protect the people you love the most. When your relationships change, the plans that you have in place may also need to change. After all, it is likely that you don’t want your ex to receive most of your property if you die after you divorce.

However, your ex is probably the primary beneficiary of your estate plan and current last will. Updating your estate plan once you file for divorce will protect you and the legacy that you want to leave behind when you die. Making the following three changes will go a long way toward achieving those goals.

Remove your ex as a beneficiary

If you have a life insurance plan, the policy probably lists your spouse as a beneficiary. They are also probably the primary recipient of most of your property in your last will. You may even have executed transfer on death documents for investment or retirement accounts that benefit your spouse.

You will need to go back over all of those papers and remove your spouse as the person receiving your assets or insurance benefits if something happens to you.

Remove your ex from positions of authority

Your spouse may not just benefit from your will. They may also have certain responsibilities to you outlined in those documents. You might have created power of attorney documents that let your spouse handle your business finances or medical means if you become incapacitated. You might also have listed them in any advance medical directive you have.

You will want to remove them from the list of people who can access your medical records or make medical decisions on your behalf in the event of an emergency. You will probably also want to remove them from any documents that give them business or financial authority.

Consider creating a trust if you have children

There are two primary ways that you protect your children in your estate plan. The first is that you need a guardian to care for them if you die. The second is that you leave them with property so that they can support themselves.

Naming a guardian can still be part of your last will, but it is less important as divorce makes it much less likely that you and your ex will die at the same time. What matters more is that you take steps to protect any inheritance you want to leave for your children if your kids are still minors. That way, your ex won’t be the one who has control over the inheritance.

Creating a trust might be smart if you have filed for divorce but anticipate a long and protracted process. If you die before the courts finalize your divorce, your ex might otherwise have a claim to some of your estate. Going over your documents and thinking about your needs now will make it easier for you to revise your estate plan so that it does what you need it to do.