Divorce can cause a total upheaval to your life. There are so many things that need to change after a divorce. Unfortunately, one necessary change is often overlooked; the estate plan. In the rush to finalize divorce proceedings, many people fail to update their estate plan once the marriage ends. This mistake can have disastrous effects on the family that's left behind, especially if the necessary changes are never made. If you've recently been through a divorce, you need to sit down with an estate attorney right away. Your estate attorney can help you take care of the four necessary changes described below.
You Need a New Healthcare Proxy
If you've recently divorced, and your ex was your designated healthcare proxy, don't wait to make a change; even if you and your ex are still on good terms. You may be on good terms now, but that doesn't mean you'll stay that way. You need a healthcare proxy who will always have your best interest at heart. Unfortunately, you might not be able say that about your ex. It's important to note that you should also change your power of attorney for both medical and durable needs.
You Need to Replace Your Beneficiary
If you haven't changed your estate plan since your divorce, and you originally listed your ex as the beneficiary, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Some people assume that the beneficiary changes after a divorce. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Unless you have an attorney make the official changes on your estate documents, your ex will remain your legal beneficiary - even if you remarry. To prevent probate problems, talk to your estate attorney about replacing your current beneficiary.
You Need to Assign a New Guardian
If you and your ex share minor children, and you don't foresee custody issues, you won't need to make changes to your estate plan. However, if your ex lost custody due to abuse, or you have other safety concerns, an estate attorney can help you assign a new guardian for your minor children. If you foresee a custody battle after your passing, be sure to provide a trust fund or designated life insurance policy for legal fees.
You Need to Provide for Your New Spouse
Finally, if you've recently remarried after a divorce, make sure that your estate plan is updated to reflect the change. This is a crucial step, especially if your current estate plan lists your ex as the recipient of your assets. It's also important that you make changes to any financial accounts you own, including retirement accounts, bank accounts, and life insurance policies. Without these changes, your current spouse may not be protected in the event of your passing.
For more information, contact a local estates and trusts attorney.