Filing for divorce means spending a lot of time filling out and reviewing paperwork. The last thing most people want to do after the stress of a divorce is to undertake another legal project.
Still, updating your estate plan is a necessary part of protecting yourself after a divorce. There are multiple reasons why changing your estate documents will protect you and the people you love when your marital status changes.
You don’t want your ex-spouse to inherit anything
The chances are good that your existing estate plan or last will focuses strongly on the protection of your ex-spouse. Most people will name their spouse as the primary beneficiary of their estate and the person who should receive the payout from their life insurance policy.
It is crucial that you remove your spouse as the beneficiary for both insurance policies and estate planning documents. You may also want to consider creating a trust for any assets you want to leave your children if they are not yet adults.
You don’t want your ex-spouse to be in charge of your estate
Some people don’t just name their spouse as their main beneficiary, they also choose their spouse to serve as their executor or estate administrator. If you have a trust, they may be the person you chose to manage the trust.
You will want to name someone as executor or trustee with whom you share a good relationship. You need to trust that they will put your wishes and plans ahead of their feelings. That might not be possible for your ex-spouse to do, especially if your divorce becomes quite contentious.
You don’t want your spouse making medical decisions if you get hurt
Your living will helps protect you if you become medically incapacitated. After a car crash or a stroke, you probably don’t want your ex-spouse to be the one who decides whether you go on life support or not. Removing them from your medical paperwork is crucial for your safety, as you likely cannot trust them to act in your best interests.
Additionally, you may want to review any power of attorney documents in your estate plan, especially if you assign financial authority to your ex-spouse in those documents. Giving them access to your bank accounts or your business could be disastrous for you after you recover from the incapacitation.
Understanding how important an updated estate plan will be for your security after a divorce can help motivate you to make those changes sooner rather than putting them off indefinitely like too many people do.