Getting married can be one of the happiest days of some people’s lives. Unfortunately, human nature is not perfect, and some relationships, as many other things in life, do not work out. Divorce can certainly be an emotionally difficult time. That being said, after a divorce, it’s possible that your estate plan can no longer represent the wishes you once possessed. It’s important to update your documents so that your assets get placed into the right hands if and when the unthinkable happens.
Update Your POA
As most people do, you probably appointed your significant other as your agent to help make decisions if you are in an accident or have become incapacitated. This document is also known as health care proxy, which gives you the power to appoint a person of your choosing to help make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Having your ex-partner as an agent may or may not be the best choice, so, depending on your situation, it is best to update your health care proxy to another trusted individual if you see the need. Similar to your health care proxy, you probably have appointed your spouse as your agent through the durable power of attorney. The durable power of attorney gives your spouse the authority to take care of financial and legal matters if you are incapaicated. Your ex-spouse would have access to your bank accounts and assets if they are your agent. This can also be a less than ideal situation, so it is probably best that you revoke your previous power of attorney and draft a completely new one.
Update Your Will And Trust
Most people also put their spouse as one of their beneficiaries that will receive their assets. If that’s the case, you should consider changing your beneficiaries once the divorce is finalized. This means removing your ex-spouse as the beneficiary or removing their title as executor, in the case that you have a trust set up. However, you should know that if you wish to change the designation of the beneficiary, you can not do so during the divorce. This is the case because when you file for divorce, the court places restraining orders on all of your assets. If you wish to change your beneficiary, you must do so after the divorce.
Guardianship Of A Minor
If you happen to have a child that is a minor, you are able to name your ex-partner as a guardian of the child in your will. This is an option if you would want your child to be with their other parent in the unfortunate circumstance that you pass away. However, even if you do not name your ex-spouse as your child’s guardian, the court will most likely appoint them as such when if pass away unexpectedly. In extreme cases, if you believe your ex-partner has a substance abuse issue, you have the option to name another person for guardianship.
Changing your POA and making adjustments to your will often requires the help of a lawyer. We recommend contacting a professional estate planning attorney who will be able to ensure that all of your documents are completed correctly.