Which estate planning documents should I update after divorce?

Divorce can be a long and exhausting experience. While you may have moved on emotionally, certain legal aspects of your life may not move on until the court finalizes the divorce process. 

Once you have received the long-awaited divorce decree, updating your estate plan should be among your top priorities. Your divorce may be entitled to your estate as you wait for a judge to sign off on your decree and before you change your estate plan.

Here are important estate planning documents that you need to update immediately after divorce. 

Beneficiary designations

One of the first things you need to amend is the beneficiary designations for your retirement accounts as well as life and insurance beneficiary forms. It is not unusual for married people to designate their spouses as the beneficiary of these accounts. The same applies to other assets in your name. If you named your ex-spouse as a beneficiary of any of your assets, it is important that you review and revise this designation if you no longer want them to inherit such assets. 

Power of attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that empowers someone else, your agent, to act on your behalf when you are unable to. It gives the agent the power to make financial transactions such as paying bills and handling your finances on your behalf. Typically, you want someone you trust for this role. In exercising their powers, the agent must act:

  • In your best interest
  • In good faith
  • Within the scope outlined in the power of attorney

Ideally, you want someone you can trust for this role. If you appointed your ex-spouse as power of attorney over your estate, then you must strip them of this power once you are divorced. 

Your marriage is over. You have taken care of the property division, and you know what your assets are. You can finally breathe a sigh of relief, given that the process is finally over. Well, it is time to update your estate plan, too, so it can reflect your newfound wishes. Remember, updating your estate plan is an essential step in planning for your future.