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Estate Planning Updates After a Divorce

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If you are planning for a divorce or have recently gotten divorced, you need to reevaluate your estate plan.  Even if you have been divorced for a year or two and have not spoken with an estate planning lawyer about updating your Will or changing beneficiaries, it is not too late.  In fact, now is the time to do so.  There are a number of issues you should be considering when it comes to estate planning after a divorce, as an article in Forbes explains.  The following are some tips for making certain that you have done all the necessary planning after your divorce is finalized.  After you consider some of the things you need to update, you should seek advice from a qualified estate planning attorney.

Update Your Will 

Most married couples will craft their Will with their spouse in mind.  It is quite common for the spouse to be the beneficiary for most, if not all, assets.  However, once you are divorced – and perhaps even once you have separated from your spouse – you should work with an estate planning lawyer to update your Will.  (You can see our previous blog about the problems with DIY estate planning.)  Unless your ex is the primary caregiver for minor children you share, or the primary caregiver for a disabled adult child, chances are good that you will not want to leave your ex as the recipient of your assets on your death.  In our experience, your ex is actually the last person you would want to inherit your assets.

Revise Your Advance Directives 

Most married people who have advance directives choose to name their spouse as their agent in a Health Care Proxy.  With this particular kind of advance directive, you are appointing someone to make critical decisions about your health care when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.  The agent named in a Health Care Proxy can make decisions about whether or not you receive life-sustaining treatment if you become incapacitated for any reason.  Once your healthcare provider determines that you are unable to make such a decision for yourself, your agent will be the one making the decision.

While it may seem obvious, you should update and change your Health Care Proxy if you are getting divorced.  You would be surprised how many people wait to make the change.  After a divorce, most people will appoint a close friend or family member as the trusted person who can make decisions on their behalf about health care.

Revoke a Power of Attorney 

If you have a Power of Attorney in place that names your ex as your agent – with the ability to make decisions about your financial assets – your divorce likely means you should revoke that existing Power of Attorney.  Your estate planning lawyer can craft a new document in which you name a family member or a friend to serve in this capacity.

Revisit Your Beneficiary Designations 

This area of people’s finances is frequently overlooked or forgotten.  Whether it is a life insurance policy or beneficiary designations on your investment account, pension, individual retirement account, 401(k), 403(b), or any other asset, a divorce means a separation of your assets and you absolutely want to make sure your beneficiaries are correct.  If your ex is named on any of those accounts, they will receive that asset upon your death.  That is probably not the outcome you want.

Contact a Westchester County Estate Planning Lawyer 

Do you have questions about estate planning after a divorce? One of our Westchester County estate planning attorneys can speak with you today. Contact Meyer & Spencer, PC for more information.

Resource:

forbes.com/sites/christinefletcher/2019/01/08/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-estate-planning-after-divorce/?sh=206143ee3e31

https://www.meyer-spencer.com/can-a-creditor-reach-my-joint-checking-account-after-i-die/

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