If you’re facing a divorce, you know that it can cause stress, anxiety, and frustration. The last thing you may want while going through this process is something else on your plate to deal with. But you should take some time to review your estate plan. Ignoring it during this pivotal time can result in losing control over your assets and legacy.
1. Update Your Will
Most married people chose their spouse to serve as the executor of their will. An executor is the person who administers a person’s estate upon their death. If you’re going through a divorce, you might want to revise your will and name a new executor.
2. Update Your Healthcare Power of Attorney
A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document that gives a person (usually referred to as a proxy) the ability to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Most married people elect their spouse to serve as their proxies. If you have done so, and no longer wish for that person to serve as such, you’ll want to elect another person.
3. Update Your Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney is a document that allows a person (usually referred to as an agent) to manage someone’s business and financial affairs if he/she latter becomes unable to understand or make decisions. As with the other documents mentioned above, most married people elect their spouse to serve as their agent. With a marriage ending, it is probably a good idea to draft a new financial power of attorney.
4. Change Your Beneficiary Designations
Certain assets do not have to go through probate when you pass. Examples include life insurance policies and retirement accounts (like a 401k). These assets, though, are usually transferred to a named beneficiary when you pass. You may have listed your spouse as the primary beneficiary for one or more of these assets. If your divorce changes your wishes, you’ll want to review those documents where you named a beneficiary and make changes accordingly.
Note, though, that you typically cannot officially change a beneficiary until a divorce is finalized.
5. Review Your Plan After Everything is Done
Once you finalize your divorce, it’s a smart idea to contact an estate planning attorney for help in reviewing your plan. An estate plan can be complex and complicated. A skilled estate planning lawyer can help look for those documents that should be updated in light of the change in your circumstances. If you fail to make a change, the failure could result in litigation involving your ex-spouse.
Contact The McWilliams Law Group for Help
The established California and Washington estate planning attorneys at the McWilliams Law Group help you prepare for the future today.
Our firm provides legal assistance with the following:
- Will drafting, execution and review
- Living Trusts
- Advance healthcare directives (living Wills)
- Powers of attorney
- Estate and gift tax issues
- Guardianships and conservatorships
- Choosing the appropriate executor and/or trustee
The skilled attorneys at our firm can help thoroughly analyze your estate and strategize the best means of transferring your assets, minimizing taxes, establishing guardianship, and supporting philanthropic causes. Contact us now and let us help protect your personal security, family, and legacy.