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How Does Estate Planning Factor Into My Divorce?

In the midst of a divorce, it is easy to forget that in a happier moment in your married life you and your spouse created a Will or a Revocable Trust. Many people recognize the importance of preparing a Will or Revocable Trust in the event you or your spouse become incapacitated or die while you are married. Estate planning is even more important when you have minor children. But what happens to your Estate Plan, the Will or Revocable Trust, when you and your spouse are divorced?

In the case of divorce, a Revocable Trust created by you and your spouse during marriage is typically terminated at the time your divorce becomes final and is included as an order in the divorce Judgment. You will have to prepare a new Estate Plan as an unmarried person.

If your Estate Plan was not jointly prepared with your ex-spouse, and you have sole control over the terms of your Estate Plan, you need to update your Estate Plan to remove your ex-spouse as a beneficiary from any portion of your estate including any bank or financial accounts, retirement plans or life insurance, as well as from any fiduciary roles.

You should also update all health directives in which you nominated your now ex-spouse as the person with legal authority to make health decision on your behalf in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make those decisions. When you update your plan, it is also important that you incorporate all assets awarded to you in the divorce and delete any asset that was awarded to your spouse.

It is helpful to your divorce lawyers if you make them aware of any estate planning and provide them with a copy of your estate documents when discussing your divorce.