Estate Planning Post Divorce – What You Need To Know

You and your spouse will no longer be spending a long life together as you had once planned.  During marriage spouses typically designate one another as beneficiaries of life insurance policies, retirement plans, wills, and trusts.  A divorce disrupts the long-term plans made together, estate planning being one. It is extremely important to update them following divorce.  So, in the flurry of the aftermath do not forget to take the following essential steps:

  1. CHANGE YOUR BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS on life insurance policies and retirement plans, except as agreed to or ordered to at the time of divorce.  As unpleasant as it sounds, if you were to die following your divorce before changing beneficiary designations, your ex-spouse would receive the benefits of your life insurance policies and your share of retirement accounts.
  1. CHANGE YOUR WILL.  In Connecticut, a divorce has the legal effect of automatically revoking terms of your will that distribute to your ex-spouse.  However, there are other updates you will want to make such as re-designating your executor and trustees as oftentimes members of your ex-spouse’s family or friends have been named as successor agents estate planning.
  1. CHANGE OR APPOINT A GUARDIAN if you have minor children.  In Connecticut, the surviving parent has automatically deemed the guardian of your minor child(ren).  In the event the surviving parent dies while your children are still minors, the court may then look to whom you appointed in your will when it considers the best interests of the child(ren).
  1. CHANGE YOUR HEALTH CARE PROXY.  In the event you become incapacitated or cannot communicate due to illness or accident, someone other than your ex-spouse should make your healthcare decisions for you.
  1. CHANGE YOUR POWER OF ATTORNEY.  After your divorce, the last person you want to make decisions about your finances and bank accounts is your ex-spouse.  So if you had durable power of attorney naming your ex-spouse, execute a new one naming a relative or trusted friend.     
  1. PROVIDE YOUR SEPARATION AGREEMENT TO YOUR ESTATE PLANNER.  In the event of your death, the estate administrator will need to be aware of the obligations you have to your ex-spouse and children.

With offices located in Greenwich and Westport, the attorneys at Broder, Orland, Murray & DeMattie LLC offer comprehensive guidance through the wide range of legal issues that arise during divorce as well as those that may be impacted as a consequence.  We are knowledgeable in identifying issues that may arise post-dissolution, and whenever appropriate work with our clients, and trusts, and estate planning attorneys to make sure estate plans may be carried out as intended.