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Update these 4 estate-planning documents after your divorce

Anyone who is going through a divorce knows that there are seemingly endless legal documents to revise. These can include the divorce agreement, the mortgage, insurance policies and many others. When you are updating your legal documents after a divorce, you would be wise to include your estate-planning documents.

Many people do not associate divorce with estate planning, but this is a huge mistake that could affect your estate in the long-run. You should be sure to update these four estate-planning documents after your divorce.

1. Your will

If you pass away and your will lists your former spouse as a beneficiary, he or she will not have any claim to your estate. That’s because the state of Tennessee revokes the beneficiary status of ex-spouses after a divorce. If you would like your ex to remain a beneficiary even after you two split up, you must include a provision in your will that explicitly states this intention.

2. Your living will

Life is unpredictable, and there may come a time when you are unresponsive and cannot make your own medical decisions. In this case, your family members and medical team would look to your living will for guidance. Many people designate their spouse as a proxy who can enforce the living will. After your divorce, you may prefer to select a different proxy.

3. Your trusts

If you pass away and you have any revocable trusts, a court will interpret them in the same manner as your will—that is, your spouse’s standing as a beneficiary will be invalidated. However, if you designated your ex as a beneficiary to an irrevocable trust, he or she may still stand to inherit. You may wish to consult an attorney to discuss whether your former spouse is still entitled to your trusts.

4. Your power of attorney

Generally, a court will not enforce a power of attorney that names a former spouse as an agent. This does not necessarily mean that the court will throw out the whole power of attorney. Rather, it means that the court would appoint a new guardian. You may wish to circumvent this process by designating a successor agent such as your current spouse.

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James H. Snyder Attorney at Law
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