No matter the reason for divorce it is always emotionally taxing and comes with a long list of things to do. It is important to have all of your ducks in a row and accounted for while undertaking the long process. One update that might not cross your mind during this time is your estate planning. The best time to take care of it is now before an event arises in which your ex-spouse will have more power over your assets than you would like.
The first two documents you will review have immediate effects on your finances and medical well-being. Your Durable Power of Attorney allows you to name an individual as your agent to represent you as they care for your business, investments, and other matters during incapacity. If your document names your spouse, then upon your incapacity they will have access to all of your accounts and assets while you are still living. An Advanced Medical Directive also allows you to name an agent but instead of making financial decisions, your agent will make medical decisions if you cannot make them for yourself. This document also provides instructions on what you would like to have happen if you are on life support and not expected to recover. If you have named your spouse in the past then you may want to consider revoking and executing a new document during the midst of your divorce.
If you have a Last Will and Testament and/or a Revocable Trust you should consider amending those documents because they nominate an individual to take care of your assets or personal belongings. The most difficult decision will be to decide what to leave to your spouse, if anything. You can choose to leave your spouse what they are entitled to under the laws of your state or take a more aggressive approach and disinherit them all together. The choice is yours.
Along with your estate planning documents you can find out what documents you can or cannot change during your divorce such as your 401K or any pensions you have. Often these documents must stay as they are until the divorce is final, but there is no harm in asking.
Once the divorce is finalized, you will want to review your estate plan once again to confirm that it reflects your wishes. Going through the process with your attorney can offer insight in your best interest as an unrelated third party with no emotional involvement in the matter. Although it seems like a daunting task, once it is complete you will feel peace of mind at this difficult time.
JensenBayles, LLP provides a broad spectrum of legal services. Thomas J. Bayles has been actively providing advice in the areas of trusts, wills, probate and tax planning in the St. George market for over 18 years. Please visit our web site www.JensenBayles.com or call 435-674-9718 and ask for Thomas J. Bayles. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Please contact an attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.