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Update your will and related documents post-divorce

You may have breathed a sigh of relief if you were among those who finalized their divorce in 2018 before the new tax laws went into effect.

However, there is still more to do. You must also be sure to revise your will and other estate planning documents to reflect the changes in your life post-divorce. 

Start with your will

Most likely your former spouse was named as executor of your will. With your recent divorce, you should choose someone to replace your ex. You do not want them to be among your beneficiaries when you pass away or have control over the management of your estate.

Revoke your power of attorney

If you named your ex-spouse as your agent in a power of attorney, you should revoke that power. Prepare a new power of attorney that names a trusted relative or friend to manage your finances and assets.

Review your healthcare proxy

Follow suit with your healthcare proxy. Replace the name of your former spouse with the name of a trusted relative or friend who can take charge of healthcare decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.

Consider guardianship issues

You and your ex-spouse may have discussed this during the divorce proceedings: Although there is no requirement to name a guardian for underage children, most parents name someone they prefer in the event they pass away at the same time. Courts will not interfere with children naturally going to the surviving parent. However, if your ex has substance abuse, mental health or criminal issues, the court may consider someone else as guardian in the event of your death.

Revise beneficiary designations

Remember, you could die unexpectedly. Be sure the beneficiary designations in your 401(k) and IRA match the terms in your divorce settlement. If not, there could be considerable confusion among your heirs. Everyone could wind up in court to revise the designations in favor of the rightful beneficiaries.

One last thought

At some point in the future, you may consider getting married again. To smooth potential legal rough spots in advance, you and your new spouse should again revise your wills. Taking all these steps after your divorce can help pave the way for your happily ever after. 

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