You’ve already established an estate plan, so you know how reassuring it is to have one. Now that you’re going through a divorce, it’s even more important that you keep it updated in accordance with your recent life changes. In fact, it can be risky or downright harmful to leave your estate plan as-is after your divorce.
If you don’t have a great platonic relationship with your ex-spouse, you may not be able to trust them to make important decisions on your behalf. Leaving financial and medical decisions up to your ex may not be in your best interest. And if you’re like most people, you won’t want all the assets you retained through your divorce to go right back to your ex once you’ve passed away. That’s why it’s so important to ensure your estate plan is updated as soon as possible – either during your divorce or right when it’s finalized.
Changes You Can and Cannot Make During Your Divorce
In some cases, it may be wise to begin revising your estate plan as soon as you or your spouse has filed for divorce. If you have named your spouse as a beneficiary in your will, he or she is still entitled to that property should you die in the midst of your divorce. Individuals who anticipate a contentious or high asset divorce may have a long road ahead of them before it is finalized, so this is especially important to consider in such a case.
However, there are some aspects of your estate plan you may not be able to legally modify during your divorce. You are not permitted to move assets from most joint accounts into a personal account because it can be seen as a financial advantage over your spouse. It follows that you cannot make any changes to your estate plan that would do such a thing.
In addition, you may not be legally permitted to change the beneficiary of certain accounts from your spouse to another family member until your divorce has been finalized. This is one reason why it is vital to revisit your estate plan with a Minnesota estate planning lawyer after your divorce – even if you already made changes to certain documents (such as your will) during the divorce process.
What to Address After Your Divorce
By waiting to modify your estate plan after the final divorce decree, you’ll have gained the ability to see where the cards have fallen. Once you have a clear idea of the assets you’ve retained through the divorce you can better determine who should acquire those assets once you’ve died.
As you begin modifying your estate plan following your divorce, you should consider these areas.
Your will and/or trust
If you’ve bequeathed your assets to your spouse, you’ll want to modify your will or create a new one as soon as you’re divorced. In Minnesota, all provisions in favor of your spouse are revoked from your will automatically once your divorce is finalized. However, you may still want to restructure the distribution of your assets to take your divorce into account.
Powers of attorney and healthcare directives
If you’re not married to your spouse anymore, you may not want them to have power of attorney in case of an emergency. Consider changing these documents to name another family member or friend.
You should also update your beneficiary on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, annuities, and other applicable investments. You may not be able to make these changes until your divorce has been finalized.
Minnesota Estate Planning Lawyer Beth Barbosa
If you’re interested in modifying your estate plan with an attorney at an estate planning law firm in Minnesota, consider Beth Barbosa. Beth is not only an estate planning attorney; she is also a divorce and family law attorney with over 20 years of high-profile experience. She has handled many high-asset divorce cases and understands the importance of aligning your needs in the divorce with your long-term estate plans. If you’d like to learn more about estate planning during and after your divorce, Beth can be reached at (612) 564-0137.