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5 estate planning roles to reassign after divorce

Spouses and partners fill several roles in our lives. They can be a decision-maker, a provider, an ally, a protector, and a supporter. In the event of a divorce, we look to others and ourselves to fill these roles.

You can take a similar approach to adjusting the roles assigned in your estate plan after a divorce. Chances are that you won’t want your ex to have any role in these plans, so you will want to review the following positions and appoint new people to fill them.

  1. Healthcare power of attorney: This is the person who can make medical decisions on your behalf, should you become incapacitated. People generally don’t want to take on this responsibility without preparation, so be sure you talk to the person you are giving this to and inform him or her of your wishes.
  2. Financial power of attorney: This gives a person permission to manage your financial affairs if you cannot do so yourself. Like the health power of attorney, this is major responsibility, so it can be a good idea to talk to this person ahead of time to discuss your financial plans and goals.
  3. Beneficiaries: You probably don’t want your ex collecting assets like retirement plans or life insurance, so update any beneficiary forms to remove your ex.
  4. Estate administrator: If you named your spouse as the person you wanted to manage the execution of your estate, then you will likely want to change this and have someone else perform this job.
  5. Guardianships: In California, there are two types of probate guardianships. One is responsible for caring for a child, the other is responsible for managing a child’s property. Review these roles and make changes, if necessary.

These are five critical roles and they are each important elements in a person’s estate plan. While a divorce may automatically unassign an ex-spouse from some positions, it can be wise to be through and deliberate in reassigning them to others. You can work with an attorney to ensure these changes are made and your estate planning goals remain intact.

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