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Estate planning steps parents should consider after divorce

There are several estate planning changes you should consider after divorce whether you are a parent or not. These considerations can include updating your health care proxy, financial power of attorney, will, trust and beneficiary designations. The people you select to inherit from your estate, to manage your affairs and to make decisions on your behalf should always be the people you trust most, which probably is not your former spouse. However, as a divorced parent, you may have some special estate planning considerations as well.

Appoint a guardian

If you have minor children, you may or may not have already named a guardian for them in your will. However, after your divorce, you may rethink who you would like that guardian to be. For example, you may no longer think that your former in-laws are the most appropriate choice, or a sibling may have shown his or her true colors during your divorce process. As situations change, sometimes the people we trust also change, and documents need to be updated accordingly.

When selecting a new guardian, you may choose your ex-spouse, but you may also consider naming someone else. If you pass away, your children’s other parent will probably be appointed their caretaker, regardless of who you name as guardian. However, if your ex is determined to be unfit to parent, the court will have to find another guardian for your children. By appointing someone other than your ex-spouse, you can help ensure that in this situation your children are taken care of by someone you trust.

Establish a trust

If you have minor children, it may also be helpful to consider how they may inherit money from you. If you do not have a trust to preserve that money for your children, the person appointed their guardian will have control of their money. That could mean that your ex-spouse has control of the money you left for your children.

Even if your ex does not end up as your children’s guardian, the person you chose to care for them may not be the most financially savvy and could squander the money before your children turn 18 years old. However, if you set up a revocable trust, you can choose someone you trust with financial matters to serve as trustee. This person will control the money for your children until they come of age.

After your divorce, there are several estate planning updates you should consider to protect yourself and your estate. However, you may also consider estate planning tools to help protect your children, such as appointing a guardian and establishing a trust.

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