Your estate plan can protect you and give you peace of mind because you know that the people who depend on you will have support if something happens to you. Your closest family members are often the primary beneficiaries of your estate plan and may play other crucial roles as well, such as handling your medical care if you go into a coma or become otherwise incapacitated.
You will have plenty of legal matters to address if you decide to divorce. Many people are so focused on the immediate consequences of the end of a marriage that they fail to think about the bigger picture.
Not only do you need to plan for your divorce proceedings or prepare for negotiations outside of court, but you will also need to reconsider your estate plan.
You don’t want your ex to inherit everything
If you die shortly after the divorce, your family members and children could potentially challenge your estate plan on the grounds that it is out of date because it includes your ex-spouse as a beneficiary.
However, if you were to die before the courts finalize your divorce, a rare but possible situation, your soon-to-be-ex might inherit everything you had promised them when you drafted your initial estate plan.
Updating your will or trust documents to remove your ex as a beneficiary is important. You will also need to update your beneficiary designations for bank accounts and insurance policies, as those designations might carry more weight than your estate documents if you die.
You don’t want your ex making medical decisions
Given that spouses can make medical decisions for one another, you may simply have named your spouse as the person to handle your medical choices in an advance medical directive or medical power of attorney. Alternately, you may not have created those documents at all because you expected that your spouse would handle those matters for you.
Removing your ex from powers of attorney and advance directives ensures that they won’t be able to use your bank account or make decisions about your medical care when you are unable to speak for yourself. Naming someone else as powers of attorney and in advance directives will mean that you can rely on someone you trust to handle your finances and oversee your medical care in an emergency.
Protecting yourself and those who love you requires making more legal changes than just an update to your marital status when you decide to divorce. Updating your estate plan is a smart move whenever you undergo major family or life changes.