Estate Planning After Divorce

Getting a divorce is the last thing on most people’s minds when doing an estate plan, but even couples with the best intentions sometimes end up in divorce court. Having your original estate planning documents revisited is an important step after the divorce process.

One of the first estate plan priorities after divorce is the removal references to your spouse as your power of attorney, trustee or executor. This happens automatically to many documents under some state laws, but it’s important to make the changes as soon as possible.

Another big area of concern with any estate plan after divorce would be any minor children and their named guardians and conservators. New people need to be chosen to fulfill these obligations in the event of yours or your ex-spouse’s death. This is especially important if there are any minor children in the family who have special needs. During this process, reconsider how money is distributed to minor children in the event of your death. Your estate plan should be set up so that someone who is your ex-spouse will not have control of your minor children’s inheritance.

Changing beneficiary designations on life insurance plans, although normally handled through the divorce, is also a key point. The most important are qualified retirement plans like 401Ks. Make sure documents that were anticipated by the divorce judgment, like the transfer of a house to the spouse, are carried out. Don’t forget to record new deeds for all properties that were previously joint-ownership.

People often assume when they get a divorce judgment everything has been done. Some of the actions taken after divorce are just as important for future security as the divorce itself.

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