Law Office of Stephen W. Penn and Associates

How to modify an estate plan after a divorce

Divorce turns your life upside down; you go from sharing your life with your spouse and family to time on your own. The shift influences every aspect of your personal life, including your future and what happens to your assets after you pass.

Estate plans are often overlooked during divorce proceedings due to property division and child custody, but it's critical to update your plans to ensure your assets are protected and dispersed by your new wishes.

Five plans to change after a divorce

While modifying an estate takes time, there are several plans you should consider updating immediately after your divorce. It will remove any legal obligations from your former spouse and give you full control over your assets:

  1. Healthcare proxy - you and your partner probably named one another as each other's proxy in case of a health emergency. You will want to change your proxy to a relative or a close friend to avoid any future crises.
  2. Power of attorney - it's more likely that you named your spouse as your executor during your initial planning. It gives them access to all your accounts and assets, even if they are solely in your name. It's best to change a power of attorney to regain control your assets and designate a new person for your estate.
  3. Wills- wills are relatively standard in estate planning and help your loved ones know what you want after your passing. It's critical to update the changes in your wishes after a divorce and change any details - including guardianship or executor of your will.
  4. Any additional trusts - some people will include trusts as part of their will or planning. You may have designed a special trust for your spouse in case of an emergency. You will want to amend the trust to have a new heir or dissolve the funds entirely.
  5. Alter any insurance plans - many people consider life insurance policies, especially as they grow their family. But you probably won't want your former spouse inheriting a life insurance policy. There may be circumstances where the spouse helps raise your children, but you should specify that in your will.

The process of updating your estate seems daunting, but the changes will only benefit you and your family as you approach a new future. Allow a planning expert to advise you on how to approach the legal documents for your particular case.

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