Getting divorced is a stressful time full of decisions that need to be made and planning that needs to be done. Once you’ve made it through who has the kids on what days, who lives where, and who gets what property, you might think you’re done making divorce decisions and plans.
However, something that many individuals forget to take into account is to update – or start – their estate plans. There are some important things divorced individuals need to know when planning for the future post-divorce:
If You’ve Already Got Plans in Place
If you’ve made the decisions regarding who gets what property and who will take care of your children in the event of your death, you’re on the right track.
However, because you and your former spouse are no longer together, you will need to update those documents and plans to reflect your new marital status.
This is one of the first, and easiest, things to change post-divorce. You’ll want to remove your former spouse as beneficiary on your life insurance and make your children or another relative the beneficiary. If you and your former spouse had life insurance policies together, you’ll want to split them into separate policies.
Since you’re newly single, you may want to recalculate the amount of coverage you had. If you took out coverage when you were a stay-at-home parent or only had part-time work, chances are you will need to recalculate the policy to reflect your new salary plus things such as childcare costs, college, and paying for mental health care for your children. If you’re the one paying child support, you’ll want to have your life insurance recalculated to factor that in.
Regardless of your circumstances, talk with a financial advisor or your insurance agent to figure out the best amount and type of coverage for your individual situation.
Make sure all your will documents, including living wills and advanced medical directives, are updated to remove your former spouse as the decision-maker. Also, consult with an estate planning attorney regarding updates to things such as who will care for your children and who gets your assets.
You may want to consider, if your children are very young, setting up trusts for them in the event that you pass before they reach adulthood. This helps protect any monetary funds they would receive from your will.
Chances are good this was taken care of as part of your divorce process, but if it wasn’t, make sure to change the beneficiary of any retirement accounts to remove your former spouse. Consider adding a sibling, aunt or uncle, or close family friend you would trust to manage your affairs.
Powers of Attorney
If you have powers of attorney in place, be sure to revoke any that name your former spouse and designate a new person who can take care of any healthcare or financial decisions in the event that you’re incapacitated.
If You Don’t Have Plans Yet
What are you waiting for? Estate planning is a vitally important task for all adults – single or married – to complete, as your will, life insurance, and other documents direct your family and the courts where your money should go and who gets to make decisions for you.
If you don’t already have life insurance and retirement accounts set up, get them started as soon as possible to protect your future and the future for your children. Contact a financial planner and an estate planning attorney and begin working on documents such as your will and powers of attorney.
Estate planning is not a fun part of life, but it’s something that must be done to give your family the most secure direction in the event that you pass away. It’s an even more important task as a newly divorced person, as you no longer have a spouse to rely on to manage your affairs and care for your children in the event of a tragedy.
Experienced Post-Divorce Estate Planning in Montgomery County, MD
The attorneys at Wise Family Law Division in Rockville, Maryland, have decades of experience guiding couples through the divorce and post-divorce process. Our partners at Altman & Associates are skilled, knowledgeable estate planning attorneys who have assisted countless individuals through the estate planning process.
Don’t leave your affairs to chance – Call our team today for your divorce and estate planning consultation.