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Why you must update your estate plan when facing a divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 5, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Divorce is a complex process involving extreme emotions and multiple legal considerations. While it signals the end of your marriage, it also opens a new chapter in your life. And when major changes happen in your life, it is crucial to revisit your estate plan. Updating your estate plan could prevent misallocation of properties and other legal complications.

Updating the executor of your estate

An estate plan indicates your end-of-life wishes regarding the distribution of your properties and the care of your children. Married couples often put each other as their estate’s executor or the person responsible for administering their estate. You might need to update your estate plan and name a new executor if you do not want your ex-spouse handling this after your separation. It might be better to name another family member or your lawyer as your new executor.

Updating your beneficiaries and property allocation

The surviving spouse usually inherits a big part of the deceased’s property. While some state laws automatically revoke gifts from ex-spouses, it would be best to formalize this by updating the beneficiaries of your will. It might also be best to revisit the beneficiaries indicated in your other assets outside your will, such as insurance, savings account or retirement benefits.

Additionally, there could be changes in your properties after the divorce. It is best to update your estate plan to reflect any properties you gained or lost.

Updating your children’s guardian

The court typically assigns the surviving parent as your minor child’s guardian upon your death, even after a divorce. It will only be different if the court sees your ex-spouse unfit to raise your child, such as if they had a case of abuse, if they are in jail or if they are a person with substance use disorder.  So, if you believe that your ex-spouse is incapable of raising your child, formalize it in your estate plan to ensure your child’s proper care.

Divorce has many implications for your life and finances. It involves reviewing and updating several documents you have throughout your married life, including your estate plan. You can update your estate plan by amending it or writing an entirely new one. As the process could be complicated, seeking the guidance of an estate planning attorney would be a good step moving forward.