When a married couple in Franklin creates their estate plan, they do so thinking they will live out the rest of their lives in wedded bliss. However, for any number of reasons, a married couple may end up divorcing. During the divorce process, their thoughts will be consumed with divorce legal issues. But, a divorce is a good time to also think of estate planning, and how key documents may need to be changed.
If a person has a healthcare proxy, while married, their partner may have been designated as the decision maker. This should be changed after a divorce to another trusted individual. Most people do not want their ex making key healthcare decisions on their behalf, should they become incapacitated.
The same can be said for power of attorney. Most people do not want their ex to have access to their financial accounts if they can no longer handle their own affairs. The power of attorney will need to be revoked, and a new one executed.
One might also want to think about changing aspects of their financial accounts. For example, a person might want to change the beneficiary on their life insurance policy and retirement accounts to someone other than their ex. Keep in mind that in most of the country, beneficiaries on such accounts cannot be changed until the divorce has been finalized.
In addition, a person may want to create a new will. They may not want their ex to have any power as an executor of their estate. If possible, a person may try to disinherit their spouse. Though, not all states permit this, and if they do, it could still set the stage for estate litigation. A different option is to have the spouse inherit only what that spouse is entitle to per state law.
Finally, if a person has a revocable trust, this should be amended as soon as possible. A person usually does not want their ex receiving or handling the trust assets. This is especially important if the spouses have minor children.
Many people in the heat of a divorce are thinking mainly of divorce legal issues. But, they should remember that there are important estate planning and probate issues to resolve as well. Therefore, once the ink has dried on the divorce decree, it is important to start thinking about any modifications that may need to be made to one’s estate plan.