Estate Planning Document Checklist for Divorce
Divorce is one of the many reasons for reviewing and updating your estate plan. Below is an estate planning checklist for divorce that can help you ensure you do not overlook any important documents as you discuss updating your estate plan with your attorney.
- Will – Your will directs how your estate is handled after your death. It is important to review your will during and after your divorce. Your divorce attorney and estate attorney can direct you how to modify your will to protect your estate even if you were to die before the divorce was final.
- Durable Power of Attorney – Many spouses execute Durable Powers of Attorney to each other so that they can handle financial matters for the other spouse. You may want to consider revoking the power of attorney to your spouse as soon as possible so that he or she cannot transact any financial business in your name, including transferring property, closing accounts, and opening new credit accounts. You may want to choose another trusted individual to name as your agent in case you cannot make financial decisions for yourself for any reason during the divorce.
- Medical Directives and Medical Power of Attorney – Likewise, you do not want your soon-to-be ex-spouse making medical decisions for you. Revoking and executing a new Medical Directive, Medical Power of Attorney, and Living Will ensures that you have someone you trust making health care decisions for you if you cannot speak for yourself.
- Trust Agreements – You may or may not have current trust agreements that involve your spouse. An estate planning lawyer can advise you of your legal right to change any current trust agreements. Some trusts may not be changed, but there could be steps that you might take to protect yourself and your property. You might also want to execute one or more trust agreements to benefit you, your children, or other beneficiaries to add another level of protection for your property.
- Beneficiary Designations – Some property passes directly to heirs without going through probate. You should review all beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, financial accounts, life insurance policies, annuities, stocks, and other assets with your family law attorney to determine if you can change these designations during your divorce. If not, you should change them immediately when the divorce is finalized.