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A brief guide to estate plan changes as you divorce

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2023 | Estate Planning And Probate

If you’ll be divorcing soon, the last thing on your mind may be your estate plan. On the other hand, you may be eager to get your soon-to-be ex off any many parts of it as soon as possible.

If you don’t have a plan, this is a good time to start thinking of putting one in place. For now, however, we’ll deal with some of the changes you’ll likely want to make to your existing documents and discuss the best timing.

The right time for these changes varies. Some changes you can make at any time. Others will need to wait until your divorce is final. You also want to ensure that no change violates any terms of your divorce.

Powers of attorney (POA) and agents

You probably gave POA over your health care to your spouse should you be unable to speak for yourself and appointed them your health care agent to advocate for your wishes as detailed in your advance directive. You may want to change that immediately and name an adult child, sibling or close friend instead. If you still trust your spouse with that responsibility, just make sure they are still willing to do this.

The same is true with POA over your finances. If you no longer want your spouse to have that authority, you can change it. Your spouse will still have a say over marital assets for as long as you’re legally married. However, you may still want to appoint someone else to deal with other financial matters if you’re unable to.

Inheritances to your spouse

Most states don’t allow someone to disinherit their current spouse because that spouse can choose to take a portion of the estate. That includes Minnesota and Wisconsin. Therefore, there’s probably no purpose in removing your spouse from your will, living trust or beneficiary designations until the divorce is finalized.

Then, you should do this as soon as possible, assuming you don’t want your ex to inherit anything. Remember that your divorce decree may require you to have a life insurance policy in their name – especially if you’re ordered to pay them spousal support.

It’s a lot to think about at a time when you may not want to deal with any more legal documents or processes. However, these are things you’ll need to consider to help ensure that your current wishes are set in place if something should happen to you sooner than expected.

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