Recently Divorced? How This Affects Your Estate Plan

Yee Law Group Inc. > Recently Divorced? How This Affects Your Estate Plan

A divorce not only disrupts your present-day life, but it can also have a significant impact on the plans for your future. If you created a will while in the marriage, then chances are you left property, money, or other assets to your spouse. Perhaps you had named your spouse as the executor of your finances and health, meaning that they would be the person making financial or medical decisions on your behalf in the event you were unable to. Maybe at the time this sounded reassuring, but post divorcce, it probably gives you goosebumps and a little bit of fear of what your ex would do if put in such a situation. Needless to say, it is important to revisit your estate plan and make changes where needed.

Keep in mind that even if you didn’t write an estate plan, your spouse could be listed on documents such as your life insurance policy or retirement fund. Unless you want to risk your spouse getting this money, then you need to make edits immediately with an estate lawyer.

Power of Attorney
If you write your ex’s name down on documents related to durable power of attorney, an advanced healthcare directive, and/or healthcare power of attorney, then you probably need to write new ones and appoint another person instead. You can make these changes at any time, you don’t have to wait until the divorce has concluded. If you have established a will, then you may have also signed these documents: 

  • Advance Directive or Living Will: you may have listed your spouse as someone who gets a significant portion of your assets. 
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney: the person you appointed would make decisions related to your medical care if you became incapacitated or unable to communicate your wishes.
  • Durable General Power of Attorney: the person you appointed would take over your financial and legal affairs if you became unable to manage them. 

Making Changes To a Will (or Writing Your First One)

Depending on your state laws, you may be permitted to write a new will while going through the divorce process. Or, you may need to wait until your divorce has finalized before you can make edits. Here are just a few reasons why you must prepare a new will, or write a will for the very first time, after divorce: 

  • The will you have currently may list someone who now doesn’t care for you very much since the divorce, such as your ex brother in-law, to take care of your kids in the event that you pass away. While the judge will make the final decision, if that person is still appointed as their guardian, then there’s a strong chance they will be raising your children. 
  • You listed your ex as an executor of your will, meaning that he or she will be responsible for handling your affairs and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Unless you want your ex to have this role, then you must remove them and appoint a new person right away.