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Changing an estate plan during divorce

People in Florida who file for divorce may be overwhelmed by all of the emotional, practical and financial changes in their lives. At the same time, however, there are key tasks that can be important to address as quickly as possible in order to protect themselves and their finances from unwanted consequences, especially while the divorce is still pending. One of the most important avenues that can be critical to explore, even while the divorce is not yet final, is updating an estate plan.

There are some kinds of changes that cannot be made until a divorce is finalized. For example, people cannot change the beneficiaries of their life insurance policies, retirement funds, investment accounts, pensions or similar accounts until the decree is issued. However, these can be some of the most important accounts to address immediately after the divorce is final. There have been many lawsuits and family disputes over the years sparked by a failure to update insurance policies and other accounts, even years after a divorce.

If a prenuptial agreement is present, it can be important to ensure that the changes made reflect any commitments that exist in the prenup. However, people can act immediately to change documents like their health care proxy and powers of attorney. These documents give the named person the right to make decisions about medical care and finances in case of incapacity, and in most cases, people will want to name someone else rather than their soon-to-be former spouse.

Wills, trusts and other documents can also be changed during a divorce, even if it is not yet possible to fully disinherit a spouse until the divorce is final. An estate planning attorney can work with a divorcing client to draft new documents and review an entire estate plan for the post-divorce future.

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