What Divorced Spouses Must Know About Estate Planning

They say that people who have written an estate plan should revisit it and make changes as needed every few years. Events such as marriage, divorce, adoptions, changes in financial status, or deaths may necessitate updating your estate plan documents. If you are recently divorced, then now is the time to edit your estate plan accordingly with help from your estate attorney. Chances are your ex husband or wife’s name is in one of your estate planning documents, which you will need to change as soon as possible. 

Update Who is Listed as Your Healthcare Proxy
A health care proxy enables someone to make decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated or are unable to communicate your preferences. If you have your ex spouse listed, then they will probably still be able to make such decisions if that were to happen. Unless you want your former spouse to still have this responsibility, then you will need to change the name to someone you trust. 

Change Who You Appointed as Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is when someone can make decisions regarding your health and/or finances if you aren’t able to do so yourself due to injury or illness. You should revoke your ex spouse as power of attorney if you appointed them in your original estate planning documents, and instead choose someone such a trusted friend, advisor, or relative to act as your agent. 

Review Your Will and Trust
Within your will and trust, you may have written provisions that include your ex spouse getting certain assets in the event of your death. Most divorced spouses don’t want their ex to have any of their assets, especially if they received a percentage in the divorce settlement. It is in your best interest to contact your lawyer immediately after divorce finalization about how to make edits to your will and trust. 

Consider Guardianship for Minor Children
Perhaps you listed your ex spouse as the guardian of your minor children if you were to pass away early and unexpectedly before they turn the age of 18. You may currently have sole physical and legal custody of your children, but you don’t trust your spouse to parent them responsibly if you were to pass on. You can name another person as the guardian of you children if this is the case. Divorced spouses may not trust their ex to raise their children if they struggle with substance abuse problems, violence, addictions, or have money issues. 

Creating a Trust for Minor Children
If you pass away and don’t have a trust set up for your minor children, then your ex spouse may become their guardian and have control over their money until they are 18 years old. Most divorced spouses wouldn’t want their ex to have this kind of control over their children. So, they create a revocable trust which names someone else as the trustee to manage children’ money until they are of legal age.