Your divorce will divide your assets and debts and create a parenting plan. A divorce cannot alter your estate planning, so this is an additional step you need to take once you are divorced. There are a number of unfortunate cases in other states in which people failed to change beneficiaries or proxies after divorce and died with old plans in place. Follow these steps to make sure you are protected.
- Create a new will. Most married couples name each other as beneficiaries in their wills. While most state laws invalidate those bequests after a divorce, it is best to create a new will so that you can choose who your beneficiaries actually will be. Make sure your new will is executed properly and kept in a safe place so it can be located. Destroy all copies of your married will.
- Update your living trust. If you created a living trust (commonly used to avoid probate), you will need to alter your beneficiaries and trustees if your ex was one of them. A revocable living trust can be altered at any time. If you created an irrevocable living trust, you will need to see your estate attorney.
- Change life insurance beneficiaries. It is common to name your spouse as your beneficiary for life insurance. The only way to change this is in writing with the insurance company. Contact them immediately to get the appropriate form and file it as soon as possible. If your divorce decree orders you to keep life insurance in place for the benefit of your children or former spouse, check with your attorney about your responsibilities.
- Create a new health care power of attorney. You and your spouse probably named each other in your health care power of attorneys to have authority in health decisions. You will need to create a new document and choose someone else to make those decisions for you.
- Update living wills. Your living will may also need to be updated if it named your spouse as having responsibility for decision-making.
Divorce is a difficult time. Talk with an attorney who understands your concerns. The Sampair Group services all of Maricopa County and our attorneys are ready to discuss your options with you today.