Sometime after getting married, you and your spouse did your due diligence and went through the estate planning process. Well, years have passed since doing that, and now the two of you are going through or just finished up the divorce process. With everything going on in your life, your estate plan is probably the last thing on your mind -- but it should not be.
Every year, numerous California residents decide to end their marriages. It happens. When it does, you'll find some individuals excited to plan for the future and others who aren't ready to even think about it. When it comes to updating your estate plan, time really is of the essence.
What you might need to change
Good estate plans typically include legal documents called Powers of Attorney. When you sign a power of attorney, you give the representative of your choice the right to make decisions for you regarding your physical and financial health. Most people assign their spouses to be their representatives in POAs. If you did and you do not change it after divorce, your ex could be the one making health care and financial decisions for you if you ever become incapacitated. Do you want that? Most people do not.
Your estate plan is likely to include a will or trust -- it depends on your needs, goals and the complexity of your estate. These are also documents you may wish to amend if you no longer want your ex to inherit any part of your estate. If your spouse is listed as a beneficiary on any of your accounts, such as life insurance or retirement accounts, you may want to review and make changes as soon as your divorce is finalized.
When to make the changes
You may adjust some aspects of your estate plan while going through the divorce process. Others, such as changing beneficiaries on certain accounts, will have to wait until the dissolution is officially completed. When you get around to making the changes really is up to you. The sooner you do it the better as you never know what the future holds. When you are ready to review and modify your estate plan following your divorce, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you get it done.