How Does Divorce Affect an Estate Plan?
Divorce affects many aspects of your life, from decisions regarding custody of children to who gets to keep the house. A frequently overlooked result of divorce is its impact on your estate plan. Any time there is a major life change – such as divorce – estate plans must be reviewed and updated to reflect those changes. Failure to do so may result in your ex inheriting your assets.
Make a new last will and testament
If you have a last will and testament, you need to write a new one. If you do not have one, now is the time to sit down and draft one. A last will and testament enables you to specify several important matters, including:
Who inherits your property: Most married couples who write a last will and testament while they are married simply leave all of their property to their spouse. Upon divorcing, you will likely want to name other beneficiaries to inherit your assets after your death and a last will and testament enables you to do so.
Naming a guardian for young children: Many parents develop a last will and testament for the sole purpose of naming a guardian for their young children. You may name a person of your choosing to serve as guardian in the event that you and the other parent are both unavailable. If you have strong concerns that your ex-spouse is not fit to raise your children in the event of your death, you may write down your reasons and attach it to your last will and testament for the judge’s consideration.
Appoint an executor for your estate: Many married couples appoint their spouse as executor of their estate. Upon divorce, however, you may not want your ex to have responsibility for your estate. Update the designation of the executor and, if you so choose, designate an alternate as well.
Update your beneficiaries
While a last will and testament may include instructions for how your property should be divided upon your death, it will not address who inherits some of your other assets. Many married couples automatically list their spouses on all beneficiary forms and don’t remember doing so years later. Revisit all of the beneficiaries listed on your assets, including:
- Retirement accounts
- 401(k) accounts
- Life insurance policies
- Bank accounts
Request new documents from the institution and submit the new beneficiary information as soon as possible.
Appoint new powers of attorney
Powers of attorney are legal documents that give another person the authority to act on your behalf. Chances are your ex-spouse was given this authority so revoke the existing powers of attorney and create new documents.
Prepare for life post-divorce
The divorce process is challenging and can be all-consuming, leaving little time or energy to think about life post-divorce. Let us help. The New Jersey divorce attorneys at Lomurro Law are skilled and knowledgeable, providing exceptional service and compassionate counsel to New Jersey families. To discuss your estate planning needs, contact our office at 732-414-0300 or online.