You share almost every aspect of your life with your spouse, so divorce will mean major upheaval for both of you. Once you sort out how to split up your property and handle matters involving any children that you share, you likely want to put the marriage behind you and focus on your future.
However, before you try to put your divorce in your past, it’s important that you legally protect yourself. Updating your estate plan is a very important step after you get divorced.
What do you need to do to create an appropriate estate plan after your divorce?
Scrub your ex-spouse from all your documents
Many people create an estate plan specifically because they get married. Your spouse will likely be the primary beneficiary of your estate. It is also common for people to include their spouse as a trustee or in any powers of attorney or advance directives they create. You want to make sure that you remove your spouse as a beneficiary and also as someone with legal authority in the event of your death or incapacitation.
Think about what your retirement might look like
It’s easy for married couples to plan their retirements in part because they can share the funding responsibilities for their savings and the practical obligations of retirement. Having two streams of income and two Social Security retirement checks can make a comfortable retirement easily achievable.
After splitting your property and going back to a single income, you may need to think critically about your retirement plans. Adding additional protection to your estate plan may be necessary. Asset protection planning or Medicaid planning can help those concerned about covering their costs in their golden years.
Consider how to best protect your children
If your children are still minors, your divorce decreases the likelihood that they could lose both parents simultaneously. Still, it’s important that you plan for your children in the event that something happens to you and possibly your ex.
Choosing one or more guardians for your children can be an important step. So can thinking about their inheritance. You won’t want your ex to use up those resources before your children turn 18. Moving them into a trust and naming someone else as the trustee overseeing the resources you hope to leave for your children can help ensure that your legacy goes to the recipients you intend and not your ex.
Considering the changes in your life can help you recognize areas in your estate plan that you need to adjust after a divorce.