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Estate planning steps to take after divorce

You have just come through a divorce, and chances are, it was a stressful time. Now you are looking forward to seeing what the rest of your life has in store for you, but there is one more thing it can be important to do. That is redoing your estate planning.

After all, your ex-spouse probably figures largely into your current estate plan. Here are a few key first steps you may want to consider.

Rethink power of attorney and medical proxy

A power of attorney grants someone the ability to work with your financial matters if you cannot. Many people elect for their spouses to take over power of attorney, so you probably want to change that as soon as possible. Also, you likely want to change your ex-spouse as the person who gets to make critical medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so.

Redo your will

It is also likely time to redo your will. For example, you may no longer own assets such as a certain house or jewelry that your current will provides for. Also, you might need to change some of your heirs and perhaps even your executors.

Plan for your minor children's future

If you and your ex-spouse have children together, give some thought to what their future might look like if you died or no longer could care for them. Would your spouse want custody? What if the both of you died? Do you need to change the guardians you agreed on while you were still married? For example, if the two of you agreed three years ago that your spouse's sibling would take the children in, are you still fine with that decision?

Change beneficiaries

It is probably necessary to change your beneficiaries for bank accounts, retirement plans, stock options, life insurance plans and other similar assets. Never rely on your will to do this work for you, and ensure these beneficiary changes are done in writing with each company. It is also a good idea to contact these companies to let them know not to share any information with your former spouse or grant that person access to the accounts.

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