Divorce has many moving parts, and now there is another one to consider – your estate plan. You and your spouse likely created much of your estate plan together and are intermingled in most of it. In addition to everything else that comes with divorce, you will need to take time to reassess your entire estate plan. So, take a breath, and let’s go over what you need to do when you are newly divorced. 

Start With Your Will

The first thing you need to look at is your will. It is likely very intertwined with your spouse’s, and it could be time to revoke your current will and create a new one with your estate planning attorney. This is your chance to ensure your spouse is not owed anything that you do not wish them to have any longer. You can also change executors and beneficiaries for your assets as well. 

At this stage, you should also consider the guardian of your children. You can choose to keep it your spouse, but if you want to change who the guardian would be if you were to pass while they are still minors, this is your chance. 

Update Your Healthcare Proxy 

You probably wrote your spouse in as your healthcare proxy. This is your chance to change who will make medical decisions on your behalf if you can not speak for yourself. After a divorce, many change this from their spouse to a sibling or very close friend. If you change it, ensure you are choosing someone who you can trust in such a dire situation.  

Reestablish Your Beneficiaries and Power of Attorney

You will have beneficiaries beyond your will. As you work on resetting your estate plan, make sure not to forget your life insurance, retirement accounts, or pay-on-death accounts. If applicable, take the time to change out the beneficiary from your spouse to someone else that you can explicitly trust. Additionally, many divorcees will change their Power of Attorney as they want someone else to act on their behalf. 

Revisit Your Trusts 

If you and your spouse created a revocable living trust together that holds assets such as real estate, bank accounts, or investment accounts, you will need to check the status of the trust. It is likely that through the divorce settlement, the trust was dissolved or revoked, but if it wasn’t, it is best to do that now and create a new one for yourself with your private assets. 

Abide By Your Divorce Decree 

During this new estate planning process, you want to ensure you still abide by your divorce decree. This means that if, in the decree, it is agreed that your spouse stays a beneficiary of a certain asset or that you two will still be listed as one another’s guardians for your children if one of you were to pass away, you must listen to those rulings rather than creating your own.   

After a divorce, it could be best to restart your estate planning from step one. In this situation, an estate planning attorney can ensure the proper steps to secure your assets and wishes. If you have questions or need to start the process, contact the team at Hartmann Law.