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Three estate plans to update after a divorce

Divorce inherently involves an extreme amount of change. Everything from your relationship to where you live changes after a separation. However, the change doesn't end after a divorce's finalization. Most couples have to update several legal documents, including their estate plans.

But what should we update right away? There are three main aspects every person should change after a divorce. It ensures that your current wishes are met and your former spouse won't inherit anything they shouldn't.

The will

Almost every adult considers their will and details surrounding their belongings. Usually, your spouse plays a significant role in your will because they are someone you trust and depend on to fulfill your wishes after you pass. However, divorce shifts that trust.

You should revisit your will and consider changing any details involving your ex. If you don't want them to inherit your house or other assets, do not include them in the will. Also, name your former spouse as the guardian of your children if that applies to you. It's more likely they will end up with their other parent anyway.

The power of attorney

Most couples name their spouse as their power of attorney - meaning the spouse has legal authority over your accounts if you cannot act on your behalf. However, it seems strange to keep your former partner as your power of attorney after your divorce.

Consider naming a relative or close friend as your durable power of attorney instead. It allows you to have someone you fully trust take over your assets in the case of tragedy. The same is true for your healthcare proxy. Try to find the right person to take over your medical decisions.

The living trust

A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, is something you should examine after separation because it affects your current life. A living trust allows trustees to access finances, assets and other relevant information.

Luckily, Illinois allows people to modify a revocable trust and remove trustees if necessary. If you haven't modified your trust previously, you can write the desired change in a separate document with a detailed explanation for the changes. However, if you have an irrevocable trust, you can't modify the trustees. You probably will have to create a separate, new trust with your circumstances.

No one likes estate planning, especially the second time around. But it's a necessary step after divorce and allows you the freedom to your estate in the future.

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Wilson, Dabler & Associates, L.L.C.
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