Estate Planning After Divorce
If you’ve recently divorced, there may be some details you haven’t thought about recently. One important task for you now is to review your estate planning and make any revisions that may be appropriate. A good way to get started is to make sure your estate planner has a copy of your divorce agreement so any obligations you may have toward your former spouse are not ignored. From there, a number of issues should be addressed.
1- Updating your proxy for health concerns: If you are unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself, chances are your ex was your proxy while you were married. Now you may want someone else to make those decisions when you can’t. Find a trusted individual willing to take over this role in the event of an accident or health problem that leaves you unable to express your wishes.
2- Naming a new power of attorney: You probably don’t want your ex in this role anymore, so revoking that name and replacing it with a trusted relative or friend who will act as your agent when it becomes necessary to disperse assets and address financial matters is the smart thing to do now.
3- Revising your trust and will: Your former spouse will likely not be your choice as a trustee or executor, and it’s appropriate to now adjust any provisions leaving assets or controlling your estate to that person.
4- Considering guardianship issues for young children: If you have children under the age of 18, you may wish to name your ex as their guardian in the event of your death. However, if for some reason your ex is not fit for that role, think about who else could step in. That may entail a battle in court to prove your former spouse is unfit, so leaving funds for that lawsuit is wise.
5- Putting money for your children in a trust: Opening a revocable trust account with a trusted individual named to manage it is a good way to ensure that the trustee accesses the money for the children’s benefit. Otherwise, money left to the children will be controlled by your ex if that’s who has custody or legal guardianship.
6- Understanding life insurance requirements: If you’re required to have life insurance that goes to your former spouse, make sure you do—and be certain not to let the policy lapse! Otherwise, your ex could have cause to litigate your estate, taking assets from those you wanted to take care of.
7- Changing beneficiary designations: If you don’t want to leave your 401(k) or other assets to your ex, make the changes! On the other hand, if the divorce decree requires that you leave a portion of such funds to your ex, make sure that is spelled out, as well.
Avoid Unintended Consequences
It’s important to remember that your divorce decree is a legal contract. If it requires that something should be in your will, and then it’s not there, your ex can make a claim against your estate. That is NOT a good thing. To avoid such disasters, have the experienced Springfield divorce attorneys at Courtney & Mills make sure everything is in order. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.