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Divorce often requires significant changes for estate plans

Disputes are typical at the end of a marriage. Parting spouses commonly disagree about their individual contributions to the relationship and are forced to find common ground in terms of child custody, property division and ongoing financial support.

You might feel a sense of relief after reaching a settlement, but your work isn’t really done until you address your estate plan.

What updates should I consider?

You might be of the mindset that you already have a will, so you’re all set. However, the dissolution of marriage might alter your wishes, especially when it comes to questions like:

  • Was your ex a beneficiary? In part, removing your former spouse from your will may depend on the terms of your divorce decree. Beyond what you legally owe them, you have the right to choose different beneficiaries. Your attorney can help you make changes that align with your settlement.
  • Who will make decisions on your behalf? You may have named your spouse to handle your affairs. Once you’re single, though, you might rather designate someone else to make medical choices if you cannot speak for yourself.
  • What safeguards are in place for the kids? Some situations merit a guardian or trustee other than your children’s other parent. Suppose they struggle with substance abuse, for example. In that case, it’s not a bad idea to work with the court to establish a guardian to provide care and a trustee to manage your children’s inheritance until they turn 18.

Significant changes in your life will probably always result in a different perspective. Meanwhile, keeping your estate plan current can minimize confusion and contention about how you choose to leave a legacy.

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