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3 estate planning changes to make when you file for divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2022 | Estate Planning

Since your spouse is usually the person closest to you, they typically play a major role in your estate plan. When you file for divorce, even if you keep things amicable, you need to change your estate plan.

There are multiple steps you need to take to protect yourself during a divorce by adjusting your estate plan to reflect your changing marital status.

Remove your spouse as a beneficiary

Whether you wrote up a standard last will or have a trust, your spouse is probably the primary beneficiary, if not the sole beneficiary of your estate. Now that your marriage is over, you will probably want those assets to go elsewhere if something happens to you.

Any documents designating property for others will need to change. The same is true for transfer on death designations for accounts and specific assets. Don’t forget your life insurance policy when making these updates!

Name someone else to act on your behalf

Your spouse sometimes has the legal authority to act in the event of your incapacitation. Their ability to do so will not end until the courts finalize your divorce.

The sooner you name someone that you trust to hold the power of attorney or handle your medical decisions, the better. You don’t want someone currently going through a major conflict with you to have the authority to determine what medical care you receive.

Reconsider the plans you have for your children

From restructuring your guardianship plans to reconsidering their inheritance, you will have to adjust the plans you made for your children. The need for a guardian may be less pressing now that your ex can just become the sole custodian parent if you die.

However, protecting the assets you want to leave for your children may be more important than ever before after a divorce. Moving property into a trust can ensure that your children will get to access those assets when they turn 18 and that your ex can’t spend up those assets while they are still children.

Choosing someone else to service trustee can ensure that there is access to the resources if there is an emergency while limiting the use of that legacy while your children are still young. Revisiting your estate plan when necessary is as crucial to its overall effectiveness as is creating the plan in the first place. Ideally, you will frequently revisit and update your estate plan documents so that they accurately reflect your current circumstances.