Broken Hearts, Shattered Plans: Why Divorce Requires Estate Plan Updates
The end of a marriage marks a new beginning in many ways. Finances split, belongings divide, and living situations change. Amidst all this upheaval, there is one critical to-do that often gets overlooked - updating your estate plan.
Whether it was a quickie wedding in Vegas or a drawn-out bitter divorce, the legal dissolution of your marriage makes any existing wills, trusts, and beneficiary designations invalid as far as your ex-spouse is concerned. If you fail to revise these documents, your assets could end up right back in the hands of the person you went through so much trouble to separate from.
Updating your estate plan is essential to ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Without proper revisions, your ex could inherit assets you intended for other heirs or receive rights and privileges like being your medical power of attorney or guardian for your children.
One of the most commonly overlooked areas is life insurance policies and retirement accounts. If your ex-spouse is still named as the beneficiary on these, those funds will go straight to them regardless of what your will states. Be sure to change the beneficiaries on all applicable assets.
You'll also want to carefully examine any trusts and update the provisions and instructions to exclude your former partner. Similarly, make sure to remove your ex's name from any joint financial accounts you may have once shared.
Finally, work with an attorney to draw up a new will, medical power of attorney, living will, and any other estate planning documents. This ensures you have complete control over who inherits your property and who makes medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. Don't forget to let your loved ones know where you keep these important documents.
Though it may seem like an afterthought amidst the emotional upheaval of divorce, taking the time to update your estate plan is crucial. Failing to do so can sabotage your fresh start and accidentally bestow gifts upon your ex you never intended. Protect your assets and secure your legacy - let an experienced estate planning attorney help you revise your plan for your new beginning.
Disclaimer: The content provided in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice and readers should not act upon any information provided without seeking professional legal counsel. The author does not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the information provided. This blog is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.