The average age of a person going through a first divorce is just 30 years old. Even if you’re at or near that age, estate planning may be the last topic on your mind. However, working with an estate planning lawyer will help you be prepared for your new future and ensure that the change in your marital status is reflected in how your assets will be distributed after your death.

Change Your Power of Attorney

Many married couples list each other as their agent under a health care or financial power of attorney. After a divorce, chances are good that you wouldn’t want your ex-spouse to be making those types of decisions for you. A power of attorney gives a person a lot of authority over some decisions. You can revoke it and prepare a new one.

Update Your Will

In many wills, the spouse is named as the primary beneficiary of property, money and other assets. After a divorce, you may want to take them out of your will or change which or how much of your assets they receive. You may also wish to remove members of your ex-spouse’s family who are not related to you, such as their children from a previous marriage.

Amend Your Trust

If your ex-spouse is still listed as the trustee of your revocable trust, amend it. You may also want to ensure that they will no longer be a beneficiary.

Consider the Guardianship of Minor Children

The process of a divorce and the events that led up to it often bring out the worst in people. If you observed behavior or actions in your ex-spouse that make you doubt their ability to be the guardian of your minor children of whom you now have custody, there are some updates you can make in your estate plan. You could establish a trust and put your assets in it. Name someone other than your ex-spouse as the trustee. Your trust can be set up so that only the trustee distributes funds to your children. This could prevent your ex-spouse from irresponsibly spending the money or using the assets that you leave to your kids. 

Review Your Insurance Coverage

Some divorce decrees require that a person maintain life insurance coverage for the ex-spouse. If your current policy isn’t in compliance with your divorce decree, or you don’t have a life insurance policy but are now required to, you’ll need to make those changes. Your divorce decree may also require that you maintain a specific type of medical insurance for yourself, your children up to the age of 26 or even for your ex-spouse. Make sure that your medical insurance policy complies with your divorce settlement.

Amend Insurance Beneficiaries

If it’s been many years since you established your life insurance policy, now is the time to review it. A divorce doesn’t negate your beneficiary listings under these policies. You might not want your ex-spouse to receive all your life insurance benefits. You’ll need to contact the company to make the beneficiary change. If your life insurance policy is through your employer, you may need to wait until the open enrollment period or provide documentation of the divorce as a life-changing event.
After a divorce, making these updates with the assistance of an estate planning lawyer can gives you peace of mind. Even if you’re on good terms with your ex-spouse, making these changes ensures that your assets go to the people or charities of your preference. To learn more about estate planning after a divorce, contact The Knee Law Firm in Hackensack at 201-996-1200. You may also request a consultation by completing this quick online contact form, and one of our associates will contact you to schedule an appointment.