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How divorce impacts your estate planning

Divorce can be emotionally and financially overwhelming, and you just want it to be over. If you are in the middle of ending your marriage or are at the finish line, do not assume the divorce decree is the end of it all. After the divorce, you should update your estate plan (which is easier with the help of an attorney).

Unless you want your ex-spouse to be the beneficiary of your estate, you need to revisit your estate planning documents and make necessary changes. Here are some estate planning matters to consider after your breakup:

Will and trust

One of the first things you should do after your divorce is final is to amend your will and trust. Revising these documents or making new ones is crucial if you do not want to leave your property to your ex-spouse. Additionally, if you named your spouse as an executor or trustee and you do not want him or her running your estate, you need to make the proper revisions. 

Beneficiary designations

Remember, your estate plan consists of a lot more than just your will or trust. You must also take these items into consideration:

  • Pensions
  • 401(k)s
  • IRAs
  • Life insurance policies
  • Payable-on-death bank accounts
  • Transfer-on-death investment accounts
  • Annuities

If you have any of these, chances are, your ex-spouse is a beneficiary on them. Make sure you revisit these plans and name someone who you truly want to inherit your finances.

Health care directive and power of attorney

If you named your ex as the person to make financial or medical decisions for you if you reach incapacity, you probably want to change that. You may want to consider naming a relative, adult child or close friend instead. 

You should periodically review your estate plan, but it is especially important after a major event such as divorce. Do not let this stone go unturned.

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