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What you need to do with your estate plan during divorce

On Behalf of | May 28, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Getting divorced is tough. It can be hard to separate your life from the one you’ve built with your spouse, and figuring out how to divide marital assets can be challenging. While you’re caught up in the emotions and legalities of that process, though, you can’t lose sight of how your marriage dissolution affects your estate plan. If you don’t revisit and modify your estate plan during or at least shortly after your divorce, then you and your assets could end up being subjected to undesirable outcomes.

How should you approach your estate plan when you get divorced?

There are several issues that you should tackle as it pertains to your estate plan when your marriage comes to an end. This includes:

  • Modifying your healthcare directive and power of attorney: These estate planning documents specify who you want to make important health-related and financial decisions on your behalf when you become incapacitated. When you’re married, you probably trust your spouse to serve in that role. But if you’ve been part of an acrimonious divorce, then they may not be the best person to act in your best interests. So, make sure you modify these documents so that they name someone you trust.
  • Naming a new executor: There’s a good chance that your spouse was going to be the executor of your estate once you passed away. But now that your relationship with them has deteriorated and your marriage is coming to an end or has already ended, it’s time to find someone else you trust to handle your estate’s affairs when the time comes.
  • Redistributing assets: Most married people choose to leave the bulk of their estate to their spouse with the understanding that their spouse will then leave those assets to children and other family members that the testator cares about. But when divorce occurs, there’s no guarantee of where that money will go. And you may not want to provide any more support to your ex-spouse then you have to. To avoid your assets from going to them, though, you’ll have to change your estate planning documents and beneficiary designation.
  • Reviewing your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement: There can be an interplay between divorce law and estate planning when there’s a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place. If your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement addresses where assets will go upon your death, even if only on a smaller scale, you need to ensure that your estate plan works in conjunction with the requirements of that agreement.
  • Reassess trusts built for your children: If you’ve put money aside for your young children, then you might want to revisit them in the midst of divorce. While your children are minors, someone else will have to manage the trust until they come of age. In most instances, the individual serving in this capacity is their other parent. But if you’ve come to distrust the other parent through the course of your marriage and divorce, then you may want to remove them from the process altogether and name someone else you trust to properly handle these matters.

Don’t let divorce bulldoze your estate plan

If you’re not careful, your marriage dissolution can wreak havoc on your estate plan and the distribution of your estate’s assets once you pass away. Fortunately, you can avoid these bad outcomes with a little bit of attention, work, and legal knowledge. So, don’t be afraid or intimidated by the thought of revisiting your estate plan during and after your divorce. Although you have a lot on your plate right now, you’ll breathe easier knowing that you’ve taken care of this critically important issue.

 

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