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4 estate planning elements to review, change after divorce

Divorce is one of the most difficult events a person can go through. It can change everything from when you see your kids to what you have planned for your career and retirement. 

Divorce is also one event that will likely change your estate planning goals and decisions. This can be easy to forget, since they are not as immediate as the other difficult adjustments you must make. However, taking the time to update your estate plan, including the four elements we discuss below, can be critical in preserving your wishes as you enter a new chapter in your life.

The following are four elements of your estate plan you will want to pay especially close attention to as you review it after divorce.

  1. Beneficiary designations: If you have your ex listed as a beneficiary for your life insurance or other accounts, you will likely want to change that. If you don't name any beneficiaries on these accounts, then your ex can still be in a position to collect them, so it is wise to update and name primary (and secondary) beneficiaries. 
  2. Your assets: During a divorce, the courts divide your assets. This means you may not have the same money, property and other assets to give away. Review any specific property named in your estate plan and make the necessary adjustments.
  3. Decision-making authority: If you become incapacitated, you probably won't want your ex to be in a position to make any medical or financial decisions on your behalf. Update powers of attorney, advance health care directives and other similar forms.
  4. End-of-life care and funeral arrangements: A divorce can change your plans for where you want to stay if you are unable to care for yourself. You probably also have no interest in spending eternity next to your ex. With that in mind, you would be wise to update end-of-life and funeral directions to reflect your individual wishes.

Divorce comes with significant changes and difficult adjustments; thinking about your estate plan might be the last thing you want to do under these circumstances. However, taking the time to review and adjust these basic elements can provide considerable relief for you and your loved ones in the future.

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