When you think of divorce, aside from the feelings of resentment or heartache, you may also think of issues such as alimony, child custody and property division. However, your estate plan is also an important matter that should not be overlooked.

If you have an estate plan, your spouse is probably included in it. If you fail to update your estate documents when you get divorced, your ex-spouse could end up with benefits and responsibilities you didn’t desire. For example, if you fall seriously ill, your ex could be put in charge of making end-of-life decisions for you. If you pass away, your ex could stand to inherit through your will.

When should I update my estate plan?

We understand there’s a seemingly endless list of issues to consider when going through a divorce, but your estate plan is actually one of the first matters you should attend to. Ideally, you should update your estate plan once you’ve first decided you want a divorce, but before you’ve legally separated—when there are no legal obstacles to doing so. If you’ve already separated, then it will still be easiest to revise your estate plan as early in the divorce proceedings as possible.

What should be updated?

A wide array of items contribute to your estate plan. You’ll want to investigate whether your spouse is currently listed in any of the following—and whether you have the right to amend the terms of any of these items on your own:

  • Retirement plan
  • Life insurance
  • Investment accounts
  • Joint trusts
  • Living will
  • Financial durable power of attorney
  • Healthcare power of attorney

The myriad aspects of divorce planning can be quite complex. An experienced divorce attorney can advise you on how to amend your estate plan—and the best way to do it.