Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. - Elder Law

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How does divorce affect estate planning needs?

When your marriage ends, updating your estate plan may not be your foremost priority. However, taking steps to make the necessary changes can provide peace of mind by protecting your assets for your children or other beneficiaries.

Take these steps to adjust your estate plan after a divorce.

Write a new will

In Florida, if you have named your spouse as a beneficiary, executor or power of attorney in your will, the document will become automatically void when you divorce. If you die unexpectedly before creating a new will, the court may not divide your assets according to your wishes. Create a new will with a trusted individual as your executor and indicate who should receive your possessions in the event of your passing.

Update your health care proxy

This document indicates who should make health care decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so. If you named your spouse as a health care proxy, you may want to update the document to name someone else in the event of divorce.

Update life insurance policies

Once the divorce is final, you can update the benefactor on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies if you once named your former spouse as the benefactor. You can name a single individual or divide these accounts between several individuals if you have more than one child, for example.

Check your prenuptial agreement

Make sure that your estate plan is consistent with the terms of any existing prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. For example, you may have agreed to leave your spouse a certain percentage of your retirement accounts even if you divorce.

Modify trust

If you have created a trust to provide for your children in the event of your death, make sure to name a trustee who will manage the money on their behalf until they reach the age of majority. Otherwise, your former spouse will be in charge of the funds if he or she has custody.

With these five simple steps, you can stop wondering if your estate plan needs revision after divorce.