If you're serious about getting divorced, update your estate plan

There are a lot of details to keep in mind when going through a divorce. It's easy to overlook some of the more important steps when you're focused on fighting over custody and asset division. Divorce may not make you think about updating your will, but that's something you need to do.

After all, divorce isn't just about ending your marriage legally. It's also about untangling your life from that of your spouse. Reviewing all of your estate planning documents to remove your spouse from significant roles is a necessary, if often overlooked, part of the divorce process. Now is the perfect time to review your last will and other documents to make sure they reflect the recent changes in your life.

Adjust the beneficiaries of your life insurance policy

In most cases, people remember to remove a spouse from health insurance policies, since they have to pay those premiums each month. Even if you pay for life insurance, you probably aren't also paying a premium for your spouse. Make sure you update your documents to remove your former spouse as beneficiary for the policy.

If you choose to name your children as beneficiaries, you may want to consider creating a trust. That way, there are rules about the use or withdrawal of funds. If you pass away while the children are still minors, a trust can help ensure that the money ends up in their hands and not in the control of your former spouse.

Update your estate plan to remove your spouse

Whether you have a simple last will or a complex estate plan with trusts, you likely don't want your ex named as trustee, executor or beneficiary for anything. Thankfully, it is a relatively straightforward and simple process to remove your ex from all the necessary documents.

All you need to do is decide who you want to name in the place of your former spouse. Then make sure that your spouse's name gets taken off of all important documents in your estate plan.

Update your living will as well to protect yourself

You created a living will to ensure that someone will abide by your wishes in the event of medical incapacitation. In most cases, you probably don't want your ex to have the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf or handle your finances when you can't intervene. Decide on someone else you can trust with those important roles. Update any and all power of attorney documents to reflect your divorce.

Taking the time to update your estate plan, last will and living will can help ensure that you and your assets have proper protection should anything happen to you. Don't overlook this critical step in your divorce.

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Beverly L . Brennan A PARTNER AT MCLAUGHLIN & STERN, LLP - NAPLES, FLORIDA ATTORNEY & COUNSELOR AT LAW

Beverly L. Brennan, P.A.
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Naples, FL 34103

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