Your estate plan should always reflect any changes in your life.
This includes the loss of a spouse through divorce, which often requires an immediate update to your estate plan.
There are multiple estate planning documents that you may need to change when you divorce. These documents can include:
- Your will– When you created your will, you likely listed your spouse as the primary beneficiary. As you prepare for divorce, you may want to take your spouse out of your will, and add in different heirs. Once your divorce is final, a New York court will not recognize your spouse as a beneficiary. However, if you pass away before your divorce is official, your spouse can collect an inheritance from your estate.
- Trust documents– You may also need to update your trust documents. Like your will, the court does not recognize a former spouse as a beneficiary of a revocable trust. But this only happens after you finalize the divorce. Accordingly, you may want to update the documents to remove your spouse once you start the divorce process.
- Power of attorney– Updating your power of attorney removes – amongst other things – your soon to be former spouse’s ability to have control over your finances. This is but one of the many reasons you should appoint a different person you trust as the agent in your power of attorney if your soon to be former spouse is named.
- Living will– Like the power of attorney, updating your living will and your medical power of attorney makes sure your soon to be former spouse does not get to make medical decisions for you.
As you go through the process of divorce, many things in your life will change. Updating your estate plan ensures that you can enlist the people you trust to take care of you while leaving your inheritance to those who matter most to you.