In the aftermath of a divorce, you may overlook the necessity of updating your estate plan. Whenever you experience a major life change, including a divorce, you always should review your existing plan. If you don’t already have an estate plan in place, then after a divorce is a good time to consider developing a comprehensive estate plan that meets your needs, as well as those of your family. Plus, you can avoid having your now ex-spouse remaining in charge of your medical care, your finances, and other important matters in the event of an emergency that leaves you unable to handle your affairs.
First, every thorough estate plan contains a durable financial power of attorney. When a couple is married, they typically name each other as power of attorney in the event of incapacitation. Following a divorce, you’ll need to choose another person to handle your affairs if necessary, whether it is a parent, a sibling, an adult child, or a trusted friend. Otherwise, you risk having your ex-spouse being in charge of your property, finances, and bills, which is usually not what you would choose following a divorce.
The same goes for your durable power of attorney for healthcare. Do you really want to leave your bitter and unhappy ex-spouse in charge of making life-or-death medical decisions for you in an emergency? Preferably, you should choose a close family member or friend to act as your power of attorney to make these crucial decisions, and fully inform him or her of your wishes as clearly as possible.
Additionally, when a married couple executes wills, they often name one another as the primary heir and executor of their estates. This, too, should be one of the first changes that you make following your divorce. If your children are adults, then you simply can divide your estate among them equally, or however you choose to do so. If your children are still minors or you don’t have any children, then you’ll want to choose a sibling, parent, or other close relative to handle your estate as needed.
Finally, don’t neglect to change the beneficiaries on non-probate assets, such as life insurance policies and 401(k) plans, and other retirement accounts. It is easy to overlook an old 401(k) plan from a previous job that you had over 20 years ago. However, unless you really want to leave potentially substantial sums of money to your ex-spouse, you need to ensure that they all are changed.
The estate planning attorneys of Legacy Law Center are here to help clients navigate through the estate planning process in order to adequately address all of their issues and concerns. With our skills, experience, and knowledge, we can help you make the estate planning decisions that will best benefit you and your family. Contact us at our Ann Arbor office today and find out how we can assist you with your needs.
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