Even though most people don’t plan on getting a divorce when they first tie the knot, it is a reality for many couples. While we do not practice family law here at Reed Wilson Case, and cannot help with a custody schedule, those crucial estate planning documents that you may or may not already have in place, are what we are here to address!
Whether you’ve been married 6 months, 6 years, or 46 years, divorce is a tangled web of documents, decisions, and emotions. The best way to tackle this difficult transition is simply by taking things one step at a time.
Put Estate Planning On Your Divorce To-Do List!
The 3 basic estate planning documents we usually recommend are a Will, a Power of Attorney, and an Advance Healthcare Directive. This is the blueprint for getting your ducks in a row when it comes to your finances, your health, and your legacy.
Related Post: What To Include In A Will – A Simple Checklist
If you’ve already created estate planning documents with your former (or soon-to-be former) spouse that have already been signed and stamped, don’t worry, they are generally not set in stone.
Given the current situation you are in, you probably don’t want your Ex having control over your finances or your health. And you certainly don’t want him or her to be the beneficiary of your assets.
All those designations could be easily changed. But be sure to consult your divorce attorney before making changes if your divorce is still pending. Some changes are not allowed to be made until the divorce is final.
Not so fun fact: If you die while your divorce is still pending, your spouse could inherit all of your assets.
Related Post: 5 Everyday Events That Affect Your Estate Plan
How To Address Each Document In Your Estate Plan After Divorce?
- Last Will and Testament – Depending on when your Will was written, a divorce could invalidate it completely or treat your ex-spouse as having predeceased you. Since the divorce likely left you with assets in your individual name, it’s important to make sure you have a Will that states who will be in charge of taking care of those assets and who will become the beneficiaries after you die.
- Power of Attorney – If you named your spouse as your agent, it is now automatically revoked. So whether you had one, or never had one, executing a new POA is highly recommended so you can name someone you trust to handle your finances if you cannot.
- Advance Healthcare Directive – If you are unable to make healthcare decisions on your own behalf, you want to make sure that the right person is making those decisions for you. If your divorce is amicable, you may still trust your ex to have your best interest at heart, especially if you have children together. There is no rule that says you must cut all ties.
- Beneficiary Designations – Life insurance, retirement accounts, and many annuities allow you to have beneficiaries who will inherit the assets after you die. They get distributed directly to the people named without probate court involvement. The law does NOT remove an ex-spouse as a beneficiary, it is imperative that you review these accounts and update the beneficiary designations accordingly.
Fun Fact: If the divorce goes through but the former spouses have second thoughts and remarry each other, the old will is back in force.
This may not be an easy phase in your life, but hopefully being better prepared for life after marriage, as far as legal documents go, will give you some peace of mind.
Marketing & Technology Director at RWC, LLC, Attorneys & Counselors at Law
Ukraine born and Israel / Miami, FL raised. University of Miami graduate in the Marketing field.
Mom to a girl, a boy, and a Siberian Husky.