Putting an estate plan in place is an important task to accomplish. However, the work doesn’t end there, as you should always regularly review your estate plan for any necessary changes on a regular basis. A good rule of thumb is to review your estate plan with a skilled lawyer every two to three years or when an important event occurs. One such event is the decision to get a divorce. With 3.3 people out of 1,000 getting divorced in Missouri each year, this may be a concern that arises for you.
During a divorce, changing your estate plan may not be the first thing on your mind. However, it is important to make certain changes so your ex-spouse does not benefit from your estate in the future. The following are documents you should always review:
- Last will and testament – When your divorce is final, Missouri law will automatically invalidate any provisions in your will that are favorable to an ex-spouse. However, this only takes place upon the final divorce order. If you might be separated for some time, you may want to remove your spouse from your will. Otherwise, if you pass away before your divorce is final, your spouse will still benefit under your will. You should also address your guardian designations for your minor children, especially if you previously named someone in your ex-spouse’s family. You will also need to designate someone besides your ex as the executor of your estate.
- Trusts – If you have a joint trust with your ex-spouse, you will want to revoke that trust and create a new one. If you have an individual trust, ensure you designate someone else as a successor trustee.
- Powers of attorney – In many cases, people name their spouse as their power of attorney for both financial and legal matters, as well as healthcare directives. These will not automatically change when you get divorced. This means that if you become incapacitated, your ex-spouse could have control over all of your affairs. You should update these documents to reflect a new power of attorney designation.
- Beneficiary accounts – Chances are you that you have numerous beneficiary accounts, including life insurance policies, investment and retirement accounts, bank accounts, and more. It is also likely that your spouse is the beneficiary of these accounts, which will not change simply because you get divorced. You should carefully go through all of your accounts and update your beneficiaries to your children or another trusted individual.
When you are getting divorced, you already have a lot on your mind. Let a skilled estate planning lawyer walk you through the changes you need to make to protect yourself, your children, and your estate.
Contact a St. Louis Estate Planning Attorney For Assistance Today
The Law Office of Kenneth Carp helps with all aspects of estate planning, including starting from scratch or updating existing plans. Contact us online or call (636) 947-3600 if you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss how we can help you.