When you die without a will, your family must go through a complicated and expensive process to settle your estate. Leaving behind an estate plan helps simplify the process for everyone involved.
Divorce is also a complicated process. When you are preparing to separate your life from your spouse, you should review your estate plan and make alterations to ensure the plan you leave behind reflects your wishes about your new life situation.
1. To remove unwanted beneficiaries
When you get divorced, most states automatically remove your former spouse as a beneficiary. However, this law only affects your ex. If you previously named your spouse’s family members as beneficiaries, they will remain beneficiaries until you remove them.
2. To name a new executor
When you create a will, you name an executor tasked with carrying out your wishes after you die. A spouse is the most common choice for an executor. Unless you are on fantastic terms with your ex and genuinely want them to help settle your estate after you pass, take the time to name a new executor after you get divorced.
3. To choose new people to make decisions on your behalf
Thorough estate plans also include documents that name a person to step in and make decisions if you become incapacitated while still living. A power of attorney can make financial decisions on your behalf, while a medical power of attorney can make healthcare decisions. If your spouse holds these positions of power in your estate plan, make sure to name new people for these roles after a divorce.
You should review and alter your estate plan whenever there is a significant change to your life. If your financial situation changes dramatically if your family grows and you add new family members or whenever you lose someone specifically mentioned in your estate plan, you should change the plan to address your current needs and wishes.