Divorce is undoubtedly a major life event. You will have to make some serious changes to your lifestyle, your family and your future plans. With all the adjustments you need to make, it can be easy for some tasks to fall through the cracks.
However, one task you should not ignore or put off after you get divorced is to revise the documents in your estate plan. Many people fail to do this because they forget to or because they don’t want to make even more uncomfortable or difficult decisions during this time, but the fact is that dealing with this situation sooner, rather than later, can help you and your family avoid some serious heartache and legal challenges down the road.
For example, last year, The Wall Street Journal examined a situation involving the estate of a woman who passed away after she had gotten divorced. She never made changes to her estate plan and years later, her former in-laws and her family were still battling over assets like the woman’s family home.
In the woman’s existing will she created while she was married, she named her then-father-in-law as a secondary beneficiary. After her divorce, even though her ex was no longer considered a beneficiary, his father was.
When wills, trusts and beneficiaries and other designations are not revised after a divorce, your care and your wishes could be left in the hands of people with whom you no longer have or want a relationship. Even worse, these parties will typically receive assets that should have been given to your own family and loved ones, who can be devastated and heart-broken when they learn what has happened.
In order to avoid these contentious and painful situations, it can be crucial that you create an estate plan or review an existing plan to ensure it reflects changes in your family and your wishes. With the help of an attorney, you can make sure these plans are current and enforceable, which can give you and your loved ones some much-needed peace of mind.