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What estate planning moves do you need to make in divorce?

There is nothing easy about divorce, but if you already have an estate plan in place, you may find that your divorce is more complicated than others. In addition to trying to meet your legal obligations as a divorcee, you also need to exercise as much control over your assets as possible, which you can do by revising your estate plan now. Forbes details the estate planning moves you need to make to retain control over your future and property.

What you cannot alter

First and foremost, you need to find out what you can and cannot legally alter. For instance, in most states, you cannot change the beneficiary of retirement accounts, a life insurance policy or pensions while the divorce is pending. In fact, the very filing of a divorce puts an automatic restraining order on these assets, which the state will not lift until the divorce is final.

If you have a prenuptial agreement, you should also review it to see what you promised your spouse. Unfortunately, your new estate plan must be in line with your premarital contract.

Next, you should decide whether or not you want to disinherit your spouse. Again, most states will not allow you to disinherit your spouse completely, but you can leave him or her the bare minimum.

Drafting a new estate plan

Once you decide what to do about your spouse, it is time to draft a new will. You likely do not want your spouse to be in charge of your estate when you pass or if you become incapacitated, so you may want to remove him or her as your executor. If you have minor children, you can name an alternate guardian should something happen to both you and your spouse before your children are grown.

If your spouse is your health care proxy or power of attorney, you can change those designations. If you and your spouse remain good friends and you trust him or her to act in your best interests, this is not necessary. However, few divorcees are ever so amicable.

Finally, review your plan after the divorce is final. Check to see what needs updated after the judge makes a final determination to ensure there is no reason for your spouse to contest your will after you pass.

This article is not intended as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.