Couples will work hard to develop a comprehensive estate plan that covers numerous contingencies regarding children, extended family or any loved ones with special needs. Documents such as wills, trusts and powers of attorney are meticulously planned and painstakingly written. What happens, then, when a couple faces the reality of divorce?
The legal areas of family law and estate planning intersect when a couple decides to end their marriage. Unfortunately, a divorce can be a stressful, emotional time and it is easy for the divorcing couple to become overwhelmed with constantly shifting priorities and an ever-growing checklist to be completed. However, it is important to remember that the estate plan must be updated to reflect your current relationship.
If you have recently divorced, are planning to divorce, or have divorced in years past but never updated your estate plan, here are some tips to remember:
- Ensure your new estate plan matches your divorce order: It is not uncommon for support terms to include provisions for medical insurance, life insurance or trusts.
- Update your power of attorney: Many individuals will name their spouse as a health care proxy or power of attorney. Make sure you take the time to reevaluate this choice from top to bottom in your estate plan.
- Update your will and trusts: It is wise to remove any provisions for your ex-spouse and remove your ex as executor and trustee.
- Review your beneficiary designations: Whether you are revising your life insurance policy or a retirement plan, make sure to remove your ex-spouse’s name as your beneficiary.
- Update any sort of marital agreements that might have been missed: From a prenuptial agreement to post-nuptial contracts, individuals should take special care to ensure no provisions remain for an ex-spouse.
It can be a complicated process full of documents and overlapping paperwork. Unfortunately, couples will also face frustration combined with heated emotions. It is easy to miss something amidst the legal chaos. It is wise to have an experienced attorney on your side who can guide you through the process and answer your questions.