Divorce can be a very complicated and stressful process, in which each spouse may finally sigh a heavy breath of relief when it is finally over. But, there is something people may forget about doing once the divorce is finalized. Any major life transition can necessitate an updating of a person’s estate plan. About every three to fives years or so, an estate plan should be reviewed and edited as needed. But, if something significant happens before that, people may forget to update their estate plan in order to reflect these changes.
Here are some steps you can take to help confirm that your estate plan reflects current wishes, and what life is like now not being married to your former spouse:
Review the Beneficiaries of Your Will
Having been married, it is likely that your spouse and a few members of his or her family are listed in your will. If you no longer want to have that same relationship with your ex spouse’s family, then you may need to remove the names of your in-laws, step-children and other relatives. To change your beneficiaries, you may have to create an entirely new will altogether and then have it signed with witnesses present, just as you did with the first copy. Then, you may want to destroy the old will to remove any chances of confusion in the future.
Appoint a New Will Executor
You may have appointed your former spouse as the will executor of your estate. If you do not wish this role to fall onto your ex-husband or wife, then you should remove their name and choose a new person.
Update Asset Arrangements
Tangible items such as your home, car, boat, treasures and art collections are not the only things considered assets of your estate. You may also have assets such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, 401(k) plans or other accounts. To remove your former spouse’s name, you have to contact the investment companies, banks or previous employers that manage these accounts.
Communicating These Changes
Unless you have to formally inform your ex spouse about these changes to your estate plan, you may want to skip out on the conversation. Your ex spouse may just assume they will be removed and not think anything more of it. But, if there are certain people related to your former spouse that you still have a positive relationship with, it is up to you whether you want to remove their name or not. If you want to completely sever any relationships associated with your ex, then approaching the topic with those special few who held key roles in your estate plan may be needed.
The steps listed above are general tips for common estate plans. Yours may be different based on what your own personal needs and assets are. Many recently divorced spouses may create a checklist and meet with an estate planning lawyer Sacramento, CA trusts, for confidence that they have completed all the steps necessary in removing their former spouse from this very crucial document.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and divorce.