In the midst of major life events such as marriage, divorce, or death of a loved one, it is important to not only take time to process your emotions, you must also be making financial decisions and changes. These changes include your estate plan, especially after divorce. A divorce decree may name who is responsible for debt or assets but you must update the information with creditors, banks, insurance companies, and on other documents. More than likely your now ex-spouse is no longer the beneficiary you intend for your estate.
Where do you begin? Here are our tips to revise your estate plan:
1. Revoke your will and make a new one. The simplest and easiest way to begin the process to revise your estate plan is to destroy your will naming your ex-spouse as a beneficiary. In cases where your will may be complex, we suggest you consult with a family law attorney who can expedite the process on your behalf, naming a new beneficiary and executor and creating an estate plan that suits your new life.
2. Update Powers of Attorney. This may include durable financial and healthcare powers of attorney.
3. Name a Guardian for Minor Children. More than likely you named your spouse as the guardian of your minor or disabled children in the event of your death. It is important to update the beneficiary in the event of you and/or you’re the loss of you AND your now ex-spouse. If you feel your ex-spouse may not be able to adequately care for the children in the event of your death, you may be able to leave documentation for a judge’s review in the event of your death. Check with a family law attorney.
4. Update Beneficiaries on all accounts including life insurance policies, retirement accounts (IRA, 401K, etc.), pay-on-death bank accounts, and transfer-on-death brokerage accounts.
5. Update titles to property. Vehicles and other related assets should have the title updated.
It is important to note that just because a divorce decree names who is responsible for debt or assets, you and your spouse must make changes to all accounts and documents. For more information about revising your estate plan after divorce or other family law matters, please contact the team at Stuart and Blackwell today.