Post-Divorce Estate Planning: Updating Your Plan After a Life Change

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

Have you recently gone through a divorce and are wondering how it affects your estate plan? Life changes like divorce can significantly impact how your assets and wishes are managed in the future. Here we’ll explore the essential steps to ensure your estate plan reflects your current situation, safeguarding your interests and those of your loved ones.

Understanding the Impact of Divorce on Your Estate Plan

A divorce can have a dramatic impact on your previously established estate plan. Key components such as beneficiary designations, your will, trusts, power of attorney, and healthcare directives might no longer reflect your current wishes or legal status. For instance, your ex-spouse might still be listed as the primary beneficiary on your retirement accounts or as the executor of your will, situations likely not aligned with your new life circumstances. It’s important to reevaluate these elements post-divorce to ensure that your assets and healthcare preferences are managed according to your updated desires and that the right individuals are appointed to make decisions on your behalf.

Reassessing Your Beneficiaries

Reassessing your beneficiaries is a critical step following a divorce. It’s time to review and update the designated beneficiaries on all your accounts, including life insurance, retirement funds, and bank accounts. If your ex-spouse is still listed, you may want to change this to reflect your current wishes. Consider who you now want to inherit your assets, whether it be children, other family members, friends, or charities. This reassessment ensures your assets are distributed according to your latest intentions and helps avoid unintended consequences in the future.

Updating Your Will, Trusts, and Other Estate Planning Documents

Updating your will, trusts, and other estate planning documents is an important step to take after a divorce. This process involves more than just removing your ex-spouse’s name; it’s about ensuring your assets and wishes are handled as you now intend. Review and amend your will to address changes in asset distribution, executor appointments, and guardians for any minor children. Similarly, reassess and possibly restructure trusts to align with your new circumstances. This might include changing beneficiaries, trustees, or the terms under which assets are distributed. Finally, update your healthcare directive and power of attorney to ensure the right person has the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so. These updates help in clearly defining how your estate and healthcare decisions should be handled, thereby preventing future legal challenges or misunderstandings.

Considerations for Your Children and Dependents

When updating your estate plan post-divorce, give special attention to any provisions for children and dependents. This may include appointing a new guardian in your will, should something happen to you, or adjusting trusts to better suit their current needs and your new financial situation. Also, consider how to handle child support or alimony within your estate planning. Making these updates helps protect your children’s future, ensuring they are cared for by trusted individuals and that their financial needs are met according to your wishes.

Consulting with an Estate Planning Attorney

Consulting with an estate planning attorney after a divorce is wise. An experienced lawyer can provide tailored advice and make sure that your estate plan reflects your current situation and complies with the latest laws. They can assist in drafting new documents, like wills and trusts, and advise on complex issues such as tax implications and guardianship. By working with an attorney, you can feel confident that your new plan is thorough, legally sound, and aligned with your updated wishes and circumstances.

Unique Estate Law Can Help with Your Post-Divorce Estate Planning

At Unique Estate Law, we offer personalized guidance to reflect your specific needs post-divorce. We are dedicated to ensuring your peace of mind by updating your estate plan efficiently and comprehensively. Contact us today to secure your future and those of your loved ones with a plan that truly represents your new chapter. 

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.