After divorce, understanding how to adjust an estate plan is key

by | Jan 20, 2019 | Estate Planning |

When New Yorkers create an estate plan, those who are married will inevitably include their spouse as a key part of it. This can be as the predominant heir and perhaps the executor of the estate. However, after drafting estate planning documents, some marriages will come apart and the couple will divorce. This can impact the estate plan in myriad ways. After a divorce, there are important considerations that must be factored in given the new circumstances.

The estate planning attorney should receive a copy of the divorce agreement, so the document can be adjusted based on the post-divorce obligations. Many had a health proxy that granted the former spouse the power to make health care decisions. This should be changed if the spouse is no longer the one whom the person wants to make those determinations.

When there is a power of attorney, the former spouse might be the one named. Revoking this after the divorce is imperative. Naming another trustworthy person is something that might be forgotten, but this can cause problems if it is not done immediately. Wills, trusts and other devices to allocate the person’s assets after death will undoubtedly name the former spouse. These device should be changed immediately.

If the person has minor children and guardianships, the former spouse might have been named and not be able to care for the child. This is a major worry and must be addressed. With a trust for minor children and the ex-spouse named as the guardian, financial control will be in the former spouse’s hands until the child turns 18. Beneficiary designations with retirement plans and bank accounts are of specific importance as they frequently will not be sufficiently changed simply by changing the estate plan.

Creating an estate plan is always a crucial part of life. For those who have taken the necessary steps to craft a document should remember that it must frequently be updated to account for major life changes. Divorce is a substantial life change and people, after the emotional and personal upheaval from a divorce, will forget about up-to-date estate planning. A law firm that helps people with their estate plans should be contacted as soon as possible.