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How a divorce can affect your estate plan

If you are starting the divorce process or have finalized it, it is time to revisit your estate plan. Of course, doing so is good practice at least every few years or after any major life change such as a divorce, marriage or birth of a child or even grandchild.

However, divorce can be an emotional and draining process, and some people never get around to making these estate plan changes. As a result, there may be a lot of confusion or contention when they pass away. So, how might your estate plan need to change?

Changing advance directives

You may not trust someone you are divorcing to make important health and financial decisions on your behalf, or maybe it would seem inappropriate to ask the person to do so. Changing your advance directives as soon as divorce proceedings start is a good idea.

If you do nothing and the divorce is final, your ex-spouse probably will not have the legal right to make these types of decisions. Still, without any action on your part, you are left without a person to do so.

Keeping your ex-spouse in your plans

After some divorces, ex-spouses still respect and care about each other. In this vein, if you still want to name your ex-spouse in your will, you should draw up a new will after the divorce is final. This way, it is clear that you knew your assets were going to this person and that it was not an oversight.

The same idea applies to other legal matters you want your ex-spouse to have a say in such as advance directives.

Retirement plans, life insurance proceeds and related matters

For retirement plans and the like, you name beneficiaries (and usually, alternative beneficiaries) who receive the money when you die. No probate happens, so remember to make any necessary changes once a divorce process begins or is final.

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