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Post-divorce estate planning considerations

A person generally has quite a bit on their mind following a divorce. Thus, they may be tempted to not give much thought to estate planning during this often-stressful time. However, estate planning can be a very important thing to address after a divorce.

When a person forms or updates an estate plan while they are married, their spouse (and sometimes their spouse's family) often ends up in their estate plan quite a bit. If a person then gets divorced, they may no longer want this to be the case and their views on what they want to have happen when they die might change quite a bit. Thus, the estate plan they previously formed may no longer be in-synch with what they want and, if they fail to update this plan in light of the divorce, it could lead to results that differ quite a bit from their wishes.

Thus, it can be very important to review and update one's estate plan following a divorce. Here are some examples of estate planning updates divorcing individuals may want to consider:

  • Making a new will.
  • Changing the beneficiary designations in things like their insurance policies, brokerage accounts, bank accounts and retirement accounts.
  • Revoking old health care proxy documents and power of attorney documents and making new ones.

When updating an estate plan, either in response to a divorce or for some other reason, a person should consider consulting an estate planning attorney for guidance and for help with getting all the updates right.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "After Divorce, Separate Your Estate Plans Too," Liz Moyer, Feb. 20, 2015

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