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Urgent Reminder: Address Estate Planning After Divorce


One of the things many people neglect to address following divorce is estate planning. But making revisions may be one of the most important things you should do! Start by ensuring your estate planner has a copy of your divorce agreement so that any requirements you may have toward your ex are not overlooked. From there, think about the kinds of modifications you may need.

  • Beneficiary designations: Assuming you don’t want to leave your 401(k) or other assets to your ex, you’re going to want to make the changes in writing in order to avoid any confusion after the fact. On the other hand, if the divorce decree requires that you leave a portion of such funds to your former spouse, ensure that is clearly noted, as well.
  • A New Power of Attorney: Do you really want your ex in this role? If not, revoking that name and replacing it with a relative or friend that you trust to act as your agent when it becomes necessary to disperse assets and address financial matters is a change worth making.
  • Your trust/will: Your former spouse will likely not be your choice as a trustee or executor, and it’s appropriate to now adjust any provisions leaving assets or controlling your estate to that person.
  • Health Proxy: Chances are your former spouse was your health proxy while you were married. But in the event you are unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself, you may want someone else to make those decisions on your behalf following divorce. Designate a trusted individual who is willing to take over this role in the event of an accident or health problem that leaves you unable to express your wishes.
  • Guardianship for your children: Your underage children will require a guardian if you pass, and you may well wish to name your ex. Conversely, if your ex is not fit for that role for any reason, you should make plans for someone else to step into that role. It’s possible this could lead to a court battle to prove your former spouse is unfit, so leaving funds for that lawsuit is wise.
  • Creating a Children’s Trust: Consider opening a revocable and naming a trusted individual to manage it in order to ensure that the trustee has access to the money for the children’s benefit.  Otherwise, money left to the children will be controlled by your ex if that’s who has custody or legal guardianship.
  • Life insurance requirements: If your divorce decree requires you to have life insurance designated to your former spouse, be sure that you do— and DO NOT let the policy lapse! That could leave your estate open to challenges from your ex down the road.

Unintended Consequences 

Your divorce decree is an enforceable legal contract.  If it stipulates that something should be in your will, and then it’s not there, your former spouse has the right to make a claim against your estate.  That is an expense and a headache that can be avoided. To avoid problems, have the experienced Boca Raton family attorneys at WiseLieberman make sure everything is in order.  Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.

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