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Getting divorced? Don’t forget to update your estate plan.

You and your spouse decided that things are no longer working and that the time has come to get divorced. Your mind might immediately be drawn to all the legal issues directly connected to the upcoming divorce. However, there is another legal matter it can be critical to give appropriate attention and not forget about.

This is your estate plan. When getting divorced, updating this plan can be very important.

A range of documents may need updating

Many of the documents in your estate plan may have your soon-to-be ex mentioned in them or be connected to goals you once had in connection to this person. So, there are many estate planning documents it can be a good idea to review and update when heading into a divorce, including:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Living wills
  • Power of attorney documents.
  • Beneficiary designations.

Why is updating so important?

In your estate plan, you may have directed assets to go to your soon-to-be ex, or named him or her to some very important roles. In light of the divorce, it is likely that you no longer want this to be the case.

Now, certain provisions related to your ex in your estate plan may be automatically revoked by law upon your divorce. However, these automatic revocations do not mean updating your estate plan is unnecessary.

For one, what exactly would be automatically revoked varies based on the circumstances and what state one is in. Also, many revocations don’t take effect until a divorce is final. If unexpected tragedy were to strike prior to the triggering event for the revocation, provisions regarding your spouse that no longer fit your goals could very well take effect.

Additionally, while certain provisions regarding your ex may be automatically removed, these revocations can leave holes in your estate plan that need to be filled with what you now want to have happen with the roles or assets that had previously been assigned to your spouse. Updating will likely be needed to be fill these holes.

Finally, provisions related to your spouse are not the only ones you may want changed when going into a divorce. For example, you many have named close relatives of your spouse in parts of your estate plan. These parts are often not subject to automatic revocations. Given this, updating will typically be necessary if you want these parts changed.

So, updating your estate plan can be critical to ensuring that your needs and wishes in light of your divorce are accurately reflected in this plan.

The important of doing updates right

Just as when forming an estate plan, it can be critical to get things right when updating your plan. Missteps could result in your estate plan not being in sync with your wishes, defeating the purpose of an estate plan. So, when updating an estate plan in light of a divorce, it can be important to give careful thought to what you want and to seek out appropriate help with the updating process.

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