Law Office of Stephen W. Penn and Associates


Your life changes significantly during divorce, and you need your estate plan to keep up. The planning that worked during your marriage will probably not make sense now. If you are going through divorce in California, now is the time to decide the estate planning updates you want to make.

An article in Forbes summarizes some key aspects of estate planning that deserve your attention during divorce. Regardless of the stage of proceedings, you can review your estate plan and see if changes are needed now or once the divorce is final. Here are a few items you may want to update:

  • Guardianship of your minor children in the event your former spouse predeceases you
  • Beneficiaries of your assets
  • Agent authorized to make health care decisions on your behalf
  • Agent authorized to make financial decisions on your behalf

If your former spouse predeceases you, your last will and testament will determine who raises your children. Divorce is a time to decide if you still like your guardian selections. You may have a different opinion now that the family dynamics have changed.

You probably have your spouse named as the primary beneficiary under your accounts, trust, and/or will. Now is the time to find out how and when you can update your beneficiaries if doing so is desired. This may involve updating your will, trust, and/or filling out forms to change beneficiaries on accounts. If you want your minor children to be primary beneficiaries instead of your former spouse, now is the time to figure out who you want to manage their inheritance.

When married, you may have named your spouse as the person in charge of your health care decisions and financial affairs if you are unable to do so. You may want to name a different agent for these important tasks now that you are pursuing divorce. Review your financial and health care power of attorney documents to decide if updates are needed in this regard.

Your estate plan should be revisited during and after your divorce. A California attorney can help you make the necessary updates according to your wishes. During the whirlwind of divorce, you have the power to ensure your estate planning does not fall through the cracks.

This content is provided for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice.

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