Keeping your estate plan up to date with your current life events is always important, but it becomes even more important when going through a divorce. As with any major event, your estate plan won’t be as effective as you’d like if it doesn’t accurately reflect your current circumstances. Failing to update your estate plan leaves you open to potential issues should you need to use it during your divorce, such as a power of attorney document which grants financial responsibilities to your soon-to-be ex-spouse or a healthcare surrogate document should you become ill.
Steps to Update Your Plan During a Divorce
Updating your Will is likely the most important step for most divorcees. In most cases, spouses name each other the executors of their Wills, which isn’t favorable after a divorce. Take this time to name a new executor to your Will who is trustworthy and dependable. This person doesn’t have to be a family member – instead, you should focus on someone you know can responsibly follow the guidelines your Will provides.
If you didn’t already have a Will, now is a great time to start one. In Florida, intestate property (its inheritance is not determined by a Will) follows a standard procedure for inheritance, which includes some property being automatically transferred to your spouse in most cases. With a Will or Trust, you’re able to specify where that property ought to be distributed, instead of your ex-spouse. Keep in mind that you are not officially divorced until the judge signs the divorce decree, so unless your estate plan specifies otherwise, your spouse will still automatically receive some intestate property until your divorce is official.
Take another look at your power of attorney documents as well. Even after a divorce, if your ex-spouse is named in your medical or financial power of attorney, they’ll still be your agent. Ensure that the person you choose to receive power of attorney isn’t your ex-spouse and that they’re willing to do the job if it becomes necessary.
Review any existing trusts to ensure that their distributions accurately reflect your wishes, and make any changes as necessary. Trusts may also be used to ensure distributions are given directly to your children, or to another trustee who can manage the funds for them, instead of your ex-spouse.
If you’re feeling lost in your divorce, we’re here to help. Divorce & Mediation Law Firm specializes in every aspect of divorce law and can assist with any issues you may face. To learn more about our services, click here or call us today at (954)-807-2962.