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What should you do with your estate documents when you divorce?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2020 | Estate Planning

If there’s one recommendation that people make about estate planning, it’s that no one should put it off. If you’ve already planned your estate but now you’re preparing to divorce, there’s no time like the present to schedule an appointment with your estate planning attorney to discuss changes that you should make to your documents.

Individuals who have medical directives or living wills in place likely have their husbands or wives listed as the person who can step in and voice their medical preferences on their behalf. If this is the case with you, then you may wish to update these documents with the name of someone else that you can trust to be your medical advocate unless you and your soon-to-be ex are on particularly good terms with one another.

The same logic applies if you’ve previously drafted a power of attorney or guardianship documents.

You may have given your spouse significant authority to make financial decisions on your behalf and in other aspects of your life depending on the type of power of attorney that you signed. You may want to revoke that document and select someone else to carry out these same responsibilities if you and your husband or wife are divorcing. You may want to identify someone else to serve as your child’s guardian if something unexpected happens to you as well.

If you’re getting divorced and haven’t placed your assets into a trust, then you may want to consider doing so. This can protect them from being probated. If you already have a trust, it’s best if it’s a revocable or living trust. You may be able to remove your soon-to-be ex-spouse from becoming a trust beneficiary. This may not be possible with an irrevocable life insurance trust.

Estate planning is far from a one-time fix-it-and-forget-it type of event. You must review your estate planning documents at regular intervals to make sure that they adequately reflect your final wishes. It’s a good rule of thumb if you do this with every milestone in your life, including getting married, having kids, divorcing, retiring and upon a loved one’s death.

An estate planning attorney in Frederick can let you know what to hone in on when you’re updating your legal documents. Your lawyer’s recommendations will likely be related to the stage of life that you’re in.