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Divorce and Your Estate

By Kelli J. Liggett

Few things have such a large impact on one’s life than getting divorced. You are no longer married, sometimes living in a different home, your life becomes occupied with battles over property and custody of children. Thus, it makes sense that such an event would have quite an impact on your estate plan. However, this part of the process of getting divorced often gets overlooked in favor custody battles and alimony amounts. However, ignoring your estate plan during a divorce can be dangerous. Many divorcees would probably prefer their assets not be left to their ex-spouse, so it is important to make sure that doesn’t happen.

When married couples are drafting their estate planning documents (wills, power- of-attorneys, etc.), they often name each other as beneficiaries for benefits, leave most of their possessions and assets to each other in the will, and authorize them to make health or financial decisions for them in the event that they are unable to do so themselves. However, for obvious reasons, this all needs to change after a divorce. You will need to find new beneficiaries. If you want to leave the benefits to your minor children, set up a trust so their best interests are kept. For power-of-attorneys, make sure you find someone you feel will be able to do the best job making decisions for you. That person could be a friend, girlfriend/boyfriend, adult child, parent, or anyone else but your ex-spouse. Make sure you also change your will to prevent the ex-spouse and their new spouse and children from taking all the money and assets from your family. Also make sure you name a new guardian in case you have minor children. You will need to appoint a new executor or personal representative in your will if your ex-spouse is the executor or personal representative, as the vast majority of married couples do. This may require an entirely new will.

Although you may be burnt out with the legal process at this point, it is a necessity for you to revise and properly plan your estate post-divorce.  The last thing that you probably want is your ex-spouse and the children they have with their new spouse profiting from all of your hard work instead of your family. Thus, if you have gone through or are currently going through a divorce, talk to your estate planning attorney about how best to revise and plan your estate after a divorce in order to achieve your goals of providing for the ones you care about.

Please feel free to contact one of our estate planning attorneys at 317-585-8085 (Fishers), 765-288-3651 (Muncie), or here for any questions you might have regarding your estate.