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Getting divorced? Update these estate planning documents now

When people get divorced, it often changes multiple aspects of their lives. For instance, if you are planning to divorce, you may have to make certain decisions about what to do with your house in Sandusky or work out a custody plan for the kids. But, when you finally sign those divorce papers, there are still some things you will probably have to attend to as a result of ending your marriage. Primarily, one of the last tasks you need to complete, and definitely should not put off, is making updates to your estate plan.

Even during the last stages of the divorce, before the court finalized the decree, there are estate planning documents you should amend so that your soon-to-be ex-wife does not have complete control of your estate should something unexpected happen before your divorce is final. For example, you probably do not want your estranged wife to have the power to act on your behalf if you somehow become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself. If you are going through a divorce, start updating these estate planning documents.

The will

In general, once you start divorce proceedings, the court may not recognize your future ex-wife's status as a beneficiary. However, if you have provisions in the will for any of her relatives, like children from her prior marriage, the court might still recognize their rights as beneficiaries. To protect your other beneficiaries, you should update your will as soon as possible. In addition, if you die before your divorce is final and you have not updated your will, the probate court will probably recognize your ex as the beneficiary, especially if the provisions in your will name her as the sole beneficiary.

The trust

If you have put the bulk of your estate in a trust, you may need to amend the formation documents. If the trust is revocable, such as a living trust, then any provisions for your spouse will become invalid with your divorce. However, if you put assets in an irrevocable trust, then there is nothing you can do. In the eyes of the law, the transfer of property occurred at the time you created the irrevocable trust and there is no way to reverse that act.

Power of attorney

If you have granted power of attorney to your future ex-wife, you definitely need to consider changing this document as soon as you can. While filing for divorce will often negate your spouse's power of attorney rights, you should still amend the document and name another trusted individual to act on your behalf in case you become incapacitated.

There are various times in your life when you should update your estate planning documents. Usually, when you experience major life changes, such as marriage, having another child or acquiring additional high-value assets, you should amend your estate plan. Divorce is another one of those times. Since it is impossible to know what will happen in the future, update your estate planning documents as soon as possible when you experience major changes in your life or financial circumstances.

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