Divorce is one of many life events that can shake up your world. How much it does depends on how long you’ve been married, where you are in your career and other factors.
As you’re busy unraveling your life as you once knew it and trying to re-learn what it’s like to be wholly self-sufficient, there’s one additional task you’ll want to add to your to-do list, which is to revisit any estate plan that you might have in place.
Why must I revisit my estate plan once my divorce is finalized?
A good rule of thumb that estate planning attorneys recommend is for their clients to revisit their estate plan every few years to ensure that it aligns with their wishes. Doing so when life transitions, like a divorce, occur is imperative because it’s likely that your ex-spouse is listed as your beneficiary or heir in these documents. Unless you want them inheriting all you have when you pass away, you’ll want to update your heir or beneficiary to reflect someone else’s name.
Some of the estate planning documents that you may want to update include your:
- Health care directive
- Financial power of attorney
- Health care proxy
- HIPAA medical authorization form
You’ll also want to review any insurance or retirement account beneficiary forms to ensure that they reflect your intended recipient’s name.
What happens if you don’t yet have an estate plan?
If you don’t currently have an estate plan, then it’s prime time to get one when you’re getting divorced. Intestate succession rules, which apply if you die without a will, generally make it where your estate first goes to a spouse or kids, then your parents or siblings and on down to other more-distant relatives. If you want to have control over what becomes of your legacy, then now is time to put it in writing. In drafting a will, you can also appoint a guardian that you’d want to raise your child if you could not.
There are many benefits to engaging in estate planning and keeping your existing plan up-to-date. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with these reasons now so that you can rest assured that everything’s in order no matter what eventualities come your way.