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Divorce and your estate plan

It is important to review your estate plan after you finalize your divorce. Depending on how it is set up, you may need to make some changes to ensure that your assets do not go to your ex. Some examples include:

  • Will. A will is a basic legal document that outlines distribution of assets. Review this document and make changes to heirs as needed. It is important to note that state law generally does not allow you to simply cross out one name and add another. Changes to a will must follow proper legal protocol to better ensure they survive a challenge. A failure to do so could mean the changes are not honored.
  • Trusts. Trusts are legal tools that allow the creator to have greater control over their assets. In some cases a creator can change these documents, in others they cannot. If possible, it is a good idea to review and update the documents that govern the trust.
  • Beneficiary designations. Even those without a formal estate plan in place should review their beneficiary designations. Businesses use these designations on bank accounts and life insurance policies. Once the owner of the account passes away, the assets are automatically shifted to the named beneficiary. Even if you change your will and other documents, a failure to update each individual beneficiary designation will likely mean the asset goes to the listed individual, regardless of your intent.

If children are present, you may also want to review guardianship documents. There are additional considerations to discuss. An attorney experienced in this niche area of family law can go over these and other potential issues and help you develop a plan to better ensure your wishes are honored.