Divorce is a challenging and emotionally taxing life event. Amid the turmoil of separating assets, making custody arrangements, and adjusting to a new chapter in life, it’s easy to overlook the importance of updating your estate plan. Yet, this is a crucial step to ensure your wishes are met and your loved ones are protected in the event of your passing. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what to do with your estate plan after a divorce.
Review and Revise Your Will
The first step in post-divorce estate planning is to review your will. If your former spouse was a beneficiary or executor in your will, it’s likely you’ll want to make some changes. It is important to note that Wisconsin law automatically removes a former spouse from your will and as a beneficiary of insurance policies immediately after the divorce. However, to ensure your will accurately reflects your current wishes regarding asset distribution and guardianship for any children you should look to modify your will.
Update Beneficiary Designations
Review all your financial accounts and insurance policies, such as retirement accounts, life insurance, and bank accounts. Make sure to update the beneficiary designations on these accounts to reflect your new circumstances. Removing your ex-spouse as a beneficiary and designating new beneficiaries is essential to avoid unintended consequences.
Reevaluate Guardianship Arrangements
If you have minor children, you may have designated your ex-spouse as their guardian in your will. Post-divorce, you should consider naming a back-up guardian should your ex-spouse pass without leaving a named guardian.
Adjust Your Power of Attorney
Review and revise your power of attorney documents if your ex-spouse was granted authority to make financial or healthcare decisions on your behalf. Appoint a new person you trust for these responsibilities, as you see fit.
Revisit Your Healthcare Directives
Your healthcare directives, such as a living will or healthcare power of attorney, may need updating. Ensure your new wishes regarding medical decisions and end-of-life care are clearly documented.
Consider Trusts and Property Ownership
If you and your ex-spouse shared significant assets, consider how these assets are held. You may need to make changes to property ownership or establish trusts to protect your interests and ensure your heirs receive their intended shares.
Consult with Legal and Financial Professionals
Estate planning can be complex, and the laws vary by jurisdiction. It’s advisable to consult with an attorney experienced in estate planning to guide you through the process. Additionally, consider speaking with a financial advisor who can help you make informed decisions about your assets and investments.
Update Your Digital Assets
In our increasingly digital world, don’t forget to address your digital assets. Update your login credentials, passwords, and instructions for accessing online accounts, including email, social media, and financial accounts. Electronic devices that were once shared during marriage may still have passwords save on them after you are separated. Ensure your heirs can manage these accounts as needed.
Communicate Your Changes
While not legally required, it’s often a good idea to communicate your estate plan changes to relevant parties. This can include your children, close family members, and anyone who has a role in your estate plan, such as the executor of your will or the guardian of your children.
Divorce is a life-altering event that necessitates significant adjustments in various aspects of your life, including your estate plan. By reviewing and revising your estate plan after divorce, you can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are protected in the event of your passing. Seek professional guidance, communicate your changes, and take the necessary steps to secure your financial future and provide for your family as you see fit. The team at Russell Law Offices, SC has the experience and knowhow to help you navigate this turbulent time. Feel free to reach out for a consultation at any of our offices or by calling 608-448-3680.