Gentreo Life Events: How to Update Your Estate Plan After Divorce

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man handing woman divorce documents in a legal office

Dealing with a divorce is never an easy process. This life event is a lot to handle, and at Gentreo we understand that it can be an emotionally difficult time for you and your loved ones. Between legal discussions, family complications, and adjusting your life to the new changes, it can be easy to forget about your estate plan and the changes that should be made. If your former spouse was designated in any way in your own estate plan, it is important that the necessary changes are made to protect yourself for the future. 

If you previously included your ex in your estate planning documents and don’t update them after your divorce, your wishes could be in jeopardy if something were to happen to you later. If your former spouse  were designated as an executor of your Will or had legal authority if you were incapacitated, such as a Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy, you may not receive the care and consideration for your wishes that you need if something happens to you. Similarly, if you pass away and your former spouse was a beneficiary of your estate, they could receive assets which you would not have wanted them to receive, assets that could have gone towards a more preferred beneficiary. For example, according to the 2018 US Census, 67.1% of people going through a divorce are homeowners. Your home is an expensive asset that you would want to ensure was given to the proper beneficiary after you pass. However, if your Will was not updated after you were divorced and your ex spouse was named as co-owner, there is little that could be done to keep them from getting the house. 

We know that protecting yourself and your loved ones is a priority, which is why keeping your estate plan updated is incredibly important. According to a 2016 survey conducted by USLegalWills.com, 8.6% of Americans have a Will that isn’t up-to-date. Combined with the 63% who have no Will at all, over 70% of Americans do not have a Will ready and available. 

We cannot predict the future, but we can plan for it, and taking the steps needed to update your estate plan plays an important role in ensuring your family and future are protected. Through Gentreo, these steps are made easy and affordable so that you can spend less time worrying about the future and more time focusing on the present.

Steps to Take to Update Your Estate Plan After Divorce

Update Your Will

Your Will ensures that all of your wishes for your estate and assets are upheld after you pass away. If your ex spouse was included in your Will as either a beneficiary or as an executor, they would retain that position until they are legally removed or replaced. If you would not want your former spouse to receive benefits from your Will or be the executor of it, this needs to be changed. By updating this critical estate planning document, you are assuring that it will be handled exactly how you would have wanted, without interference.

Update Your Health Care Proxy

A Health Care Proxy is both an estate document and a person who is designated by your estate plan to make all health care decisions for you in the event that you were incapacitated and couldn’t make those decisions yourself. If your ex spouse was never removed as your Health Care Proxy, they would still maintain responsibility for your health care decisions if something were to happen to you, even if you were no longer married to them. This could interfere with you receiving timely care, and may not follow your wishes for the type of care you would want to receive.

Update Your Power of Attorney

Similar to a Health Care Proxy, a Power of Attorney ensures that your financial decisions can be made if you were unable to make these decisions yourself. A Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to pay bills and handle your finances, preventing you from financial risk while you are incapacitated. If your former spouse was named as your Power of Attorney while you were married, they would still maintain control of your finances if something happened to you after you were divorced. Your wishes for your finances may be at risk with an ex spouse in control, which is why updating your Power of Attorney should be a priority after you get divorced.

Update Your Other Documents

There are many other ways that your former spouse could have been included in an estate plan, and it is important that you make all of the necessary changes to ensure that they are no longer involved. For example, if you had a Pet Power of Attorney or Pet Trust in place and your ex spouse was named in the plans for your pet’s care in the event something happens to you, you may want to make sure you assign a new caretaker. They may also be listed as a Trustee or beneficiary in your Revocable Living Trust, or as an emergency contact on your Emergency Card.

A divorce is a complicated life event, and with it comes many life changes. At Gentreo, we know that protecting yourself and your family is the number one priority, and want to make sure that you have all the resources needed to ensure that you are prepared for anything. Gentreo makes it easy and affordable to create, update, and store your estate documentation. With the Gentreo Digital Family Vault, everyone knows where to turn in the event of an emergency and instant access is always just a few clicks away. Sign up today to get peace of mind and give yourself the protection you deserve.

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