Butler Law

Be sure to update your estate plan after divorce

Most people, upon creating an estate plan, will check it off of a to-do list and promptly forget about it. However, estate plans are not meant to be created and then left stagnant.

Your life is filled with change, and your estate plan works best when it reflects changes as they occur. Many of the changes that should spark an estate plan update align with milestones, such as getting married, purchasing a home or having a child. However, you should also update your estate plan after getting a divorce.

Divorce changes your possessions and finances

During divorce your possessions and overall financial situation may have changed. Perhaps your estate plan lists a house that your spouse got in the divorce. Perhaps you are less charitably inclined after an expensive divorce. Maybe you have new debts or new assets that should be included. By reviewing your estate plan with a professional, you can make sure that any changes to your assets or financial situation are reflected in your estate plan.

Divorce also changes your relationships

Divorce inevitably causes changes to relationships. It may no longer be appropriate to name your former spouse for positions of power and trust. You may also want to reconsider other people you have named in your estate plan, such as your former in-laws.

This may mean choosing a new personal representative in your will, agent in your power of attorney and trustee in your trust. It may also mean changing who your beneficiaries are and how you want to distribute your wealth. However, it can be helpful to share your divorce agreement with your attorney because your divorce agreement may prohibit some changes.

Divorce can change many facets of your life, so you should try to update your estate plan as soon as possible after your divorce is finalized. That way, you can be sure your estate plan reflects your current situation and current estate planning goals.

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