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When Divorcing, Consider Effects on Estate Plans

By Zachary Mushkatel on

Divorce changes the lives of those involved. It means striking out on your own, changing how you and your spouse deal with the children, and facing complex financial issues. Divorce also means it is time to reconsider your estate plans.

Even if you divorce, many of the designations in your estate plan do not change. This means that unless you take steps to alter your estate plan, some or all of your assets may be left to your former spouse when you pass away, whether you want this to occur or not. Some of the changes required in many estate plans after a divorce include:

  • Beneficiary designations. Employer or individual retirement plans, life insurance, annuities, and health savings accounts all have specific named beneficiaries. Most people name their spouse, but the designation remains even if the marriage ends.
  • Will or trust. A will or trust may need to be altered to change or remove a spouse as designee or beneficiary.
  • Powers of attorney and living wills. When spouses make medical power of attorney or living will documents, they frequently list one another as the person who may make decisions for them if they become unable to make their own decisions. A divorce does not revoke this power; only changing the power or attorney or living will can do that.
  • Guardianship, conservatorship, and remarriage. Who will watch or care for the children if one of the parents dies? Many estate plans need to be updated after a divorce to deal with these questions.

If you need to create an estate plan or make changes to an existing state plan, contact the skilled Phoenix estate planning attorneys at Mushkatel, Robbins, & Becker, PLLC. Our experience as family law attorneys and estate planning lawyers gives us insight into how divorce and other family changes affect your estate plan.