Estate planning is probably not something that seems to be relevant when a couple is going through a divorce. People don’t need something else to deal with during that traumatic process. However, there are several things that you should consider doing that could have a huge impact on how your wishes are carried out.
It is very important that individuals going through the divorce process or ones newly divorced have their wills rewritten and updated. This is something that people tend to procrastinate about, though they fully intend to have it done. Unfortunately, days become weeks and weeks become months. A heart attack or stroke could have a devastating impact on your wishes if you have failed to have your will updated..
You might need to reconsider your personal representative or executor. This is the appointed individual who makes certain the provisions made in the will are carried out.
If minor or disabled children are involved, you may want to reconsider who you have chosen to be their guardian should something happen to you. Perhaps a living trust can help accomplish your wishes without going through probate.
Another thing to consider doing is having your durable power of attorney rewritten. This general durable power of attorney designates someone to be your attorney in fact. They then have the power and authority to act on your behalf and perform all legal actions for you. If this person is your ex-spouse in your original power of attorney, you would undoubtedly want to revise this document.
If you have a health care power of attorney or living will, you should consider having those rewritten. These documents provide instructions regarding what type of treatment you desire, in the event that you become terminal and recovery is not anticipated. The health care power of attorney appoints someone to make those decisions for you. A spouse is usually designated as having that authority, so you might consider revising this document.
Attention needs to be directed to any retirement investment accounts and life insurance policies, to make sure that your ex-spouse is removed as the primary beneficiary. The process is relatively simple and is as easy as making phone calls to the brokerage firm and the life insurance company requesting a change of beneficiary forms. Once you have signed these documents and returned them, you will receive a notification that the changes have been made.
All of these estate planning issues need immediate attention, once the divorce process is complete if they have not been addressed previously. In order to make sure that all of the necessary changes are made quickly and properly, you need to seek advice from an attorney who is experienced in estate planning and probate matters.
The attorneys at Krause Donovan Estate Law Parners, LLC, help clients in the Madison, Wisconsin, and Rockford, Illinois, area with their wills, powers of attorney, trusts, health care documents, and estate planning needs. Submit our online form to request an estate planning consultation.