The Importance of Updating Your Estate Planning Documents Following Divorce
You’ve got a Decree of Dissolution in your hand. You’ve navigated the divorce process and tackled all the to-dos associated. You’ve made it to the finish line, and you are officially divorced. Some feel exhausted by this point, while others feel exhilarated by the promise of a new journey. Regardless of how you may feel I have some news for you: you’re not done just yet.
Don’t Count on a Divorce Alone to Nullify Your Marital Estate Planning
A post-divorce client once asked me, “Do I really need to update my estate planning documents? We’re divorced now. Doesn’t that logically mean our joint estate planning is dissolved?”
Estate planning documents fundamentally are a reflection of your wishes and directions as to what would happen if you became incapacitated or passed away, in an effort to protect you and your loved ones. As such, it’s important to update your estate planning whenever life-changing events take place, including divorce.
While some state laws may disqualify a former spouse as a beneficiary, why leave something like this to chance? Also ask yourself: do you want your former spouse to make healthcare or financial decisions on your behalf if you were to become incapacitated? You may think that a former spouse would simply pass on their agent designation to a successor agent, but what if they didn’t? If contested, these types of issues can get locked up in long legal battles, possibly eating into your estate and putting a tremendous emotional toll on your family or friends who would work to serve your best interests. And worst-case scenario, your estate could end up going to a former spouse or their family members.
Steps to Take to Update Your Estate Planning After Divorce
Estate plans are unique to each individual or couple. Post-divorce, you should consider what you’d like changed to fit your specific situation. To whom do you wish to leave your estate? Who will oversee the process of distributing your estate? How should minor or special needs children be addressed? Who should make financial and/or healthcare decisions for you? Is your former spouse listed as a beneficiary or designated as a payable upon death recipient on any life insurance policies, accounts, etc.? Have you addressed deeds or titles to property to ensure they reflect proper ownership?
Once these important decisions are made, it’s time to get your estate planning documents updated. At Smarter Divorce Solutions, we understand the post-divorce transition and can update your estate planning documents at an affordable cost. Give us a call at 877-552-4017 to get started!