Avoid unintended estate planning consequences during divorce

If you are going through a divorce, you likely have much on your mind and many demands on your time. However, do not forget to update your estate plan. While the divorce is underway, your spouse still has certain rights, and you will want to keep as much control over your assets as you can.

Update your powers of attorney

You have probably named your spouse as the decision maker regarding your health care if you become incapable of managing that yourself. You may also have a durable power of attorney that permits your spouse access to your assets and accounts if you become incompetent. You should replace the existing powers of attorney and insert new names.

Name a new executor

If your spouse is currently named as executor in your will, replace him or her with someone else, someone that you trust to manage your affairs and handle your estate responsibly when you pass away.

Decide what to leave your spouse

Due to the divorce, the question of what to leave to your spouse arises. Some people only leave as much as the spouse is entitled to under state law, and others want to disinherit a spouse altogether, but you may have different thoughts entirely.

Review your prenuptial agreement

If you and your spouse signed a prenup or postnup, this document will show what assets your spouse is entitled to when you pass. The terms of that document should be reflected in the new estate plan you draw up.

Amend your revocable trust

Among your estate planning documents, there may be a revocable trust in which there are sections you either want to remove or alter. For example, are there provisions for your minor children? If you pass away, should your spouse continue to manage funds in the trust for the care of your children?

A temporary measure

Making revisions to an estate plan while a divorce is in progress is often a temporary measure to avoid unintended consequences. When it is over, you should revisit your plan and make any post-divorce adjustments that are required.