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Estate planning issues involved in getting divorced

The to-do list for divorce includes an endless number of details. Some items are issues that must immediately be dealt with, such as family plans and support. However, financial experts say that there are other important issues that are easy to put off, but these are still important to the well-being of your estate and your family.

It is crucial to go through the important paperwork of your life and make sure that it is updated to reflect your circumstances. This includes the fact that that ex-spouses should not be on estate planning paperwork unless it is part of the divorce agreement.

Important estate planning papers that need to be changed:

  • Your healthcare proxy: Ideally you and your ex are on good terms and are doing a great job sharing parenting responsibilities, but a healthcare proxy responsibility is not something that should be left in their hands.
  • Power of attorney: Similar to a health care proxy, this gives someone power to make important decisions in regard to your finances.  A durable power or general power of attorney gives them access to your bank accounts, which is not a good idea if that divorce was not amicable.  Even a Limited Power of Attorney should be carefully scrutinized.
  • Your will: Designations will need to stay in place until the divorce is final, but once that happens it is important to remove your ex's name from anything that you don't want them to receive. You may also want to name an alternate guardian for your children if your spouse becomes unfit for the responsibility.
  • Non-probated assets: This can include health insurance policies, retirement plans and pensions administered by third-parties who will typically require a certified copy of a Final Decree of Divorce and a formal written request before removing a spouse as a beneficiary.
  • Pre- and post-nup agreements: Your attorney should have looked over this thoroughly during the divorce process, but they probably read the contract and enforced it for the divorce, but possibly didn't address clauses involving death.

Closure for your divorce

While many of these matters would normally be addressed by an estate law attorney, they most certainly need to be considered in a divorce as assets to be divided or kept. Once the divorce has gone throughn (judges do not want to see shifts in assets during the process) addressing these matters can be a way to put some final important details to rest. Some may even consider it closure.  A consultation with an experienced Board-certified Family Law attorney can keep you informed aoub the proper way to exercise the legal options of your choice.

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