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4 Ways Divorce Can Affect Your Estate Planning

man signing will

One of the many ways a divorce will impact your life is forcing you to change your estate plan. Because your divorce will change your living arrangements and family structure, you must plan for the future accordingly. That means making changes to how you wish that your estate is handled in case you pass away.

This is something we don’t usually think about, especially if we don’t have any chronic disease or work in a risky profession, but everyone has an estate – no matter how large or small – and an unfortunate event can happen at any time. Here is how your divorce can impact what will happen to your estate in the future.

Draft a New Will

The main document in estate planning is your will: a legal document that shows how you want your property to be divided in case you die. When drafting a new will, it will automatically revoke the previous wills you had. This means that you must have a clear idea about who you want your property to end up with after your death.

Since you and your spouse will no longer be family, some states automatically disinherit them, but if their children or other family members were previously included in your will, they will still get a share of your inheritance if you don’t draft a new will stating otherwise.

If you and your spouse agree to keep a cordial relationship and still be in each other’s lives, and you still want them to give a part of your property, drafting a new will is still necessary, as most states treat your divorced spouse as if they predeceased you.

You Should Update Your Beneficiary Designations

Not all your assets are included in your will, and it’s important to decide what happens to them after your death. Examples of such assets include retirement accounts, life insurance policies, pay-on-death bank accounts, and other similar financial assets. There are certain types of plans that are governed by federal law, and under it, divorce is not taken into consideration when passing them over after your death. This is why you have to deal with the changes yourself, and name another beneficiary by updating your documents.

Name Legal Guardians for Your Minor Children

When you have minor children, it’s most likely that they will end up living with your spouse in case something happens to you. But you also have to consider the possibility of your spouse predeceasing you, or losing their parenting rights, which is why it’s wise to name a legal guardian other than them in case you die.

Making New Powers of Attorney Directives

Powers of attorney include important decisions that someone can make in your name: legal and financial decisions, medical decisions in case you lose your capacity to make them, handling certain things in case you are left in a vegetative state, etc. If your spouse or their family were previously named in these documents, you may want to update them.

If you are uncertain how divorce can impact your estate planning, or have any doubts on what decision to take, discuss this with your St. Louis divorce lawyer. They can recommend the best course of action.

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