Even when a marriage ends on relatively friendly terms, the process of going through a divorce can be emotionally overwhelming. Once the divorce is over, many people are more than ready to move on, and too often they neglect to make essential changes to their estate plan.
Some changes may be obvious, such as removing a former spouse as a beneficiary and/or executor of your will. However, married couples often make many joint financial decisions that may have repercussions for years to come. Here are a few key estate planning issues you may want to consider after a divorce.
Revise your power of attorney
Couples who have been together for some time often extend powers of attorney to their spouse. Sometimes, they may even forget that they have done so. In the event of divorce, it is important to make sure that you check your estate plan regarding existing powers of attorney granted to your former partner so that you can revoke them and designate a new agent to perform those duties.
Update your designated health care agent
You may have chosen your spouse as a health care proxy with durable power of attorney that allows him or her to make medical decisions should you become incapacitated. Whether you are considering a divorce or have already separated, it is important to change your designated proxy as soon as possible to ensure your health is in trusted hands should you face a health care emergency.
Ensure your executor has access to your divorce agreement
In some cases, a divorce may result in an agreement to maintain certain financial obligations, such as a life insurance policy, a portion of a military pension or Social Security benefits. Once you have finalized your divorce, make sure your attorney has a copy of the divorce agreement so that he or she has all the necessary information to help you meet those obligations while protecting your financial resources.
Protecting your assets through diligent planning
Dealing with the aftermath of divorce can feel mentally and financially exhausting, making it difficult to focus on accounting details and legal obligations. However, putting together a new, comprehensive estate plan is essential for rebuilding a solid foundation for your new life and your new future.