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After divorce, don't forget to revise your estate plan

Once you've signed your divorce decree, you likely never want to look at another legal document or talk to a lawyer again -- or at least for some time. However, it's essential that you review and revise your estate planning documents as soon as possible.

If you don't have an estate plan, now is the time to get one. If your family law attorney also handles estate planning, as many do, the process is simplified. He or she already knows you and can provide guidance that will help as you detail how you want your assets to be handled when you die and who will take care of things should you become incapacitated.

Further, your family law/estate planning attorney can help ensure that your new or amended estate planning documents don't violate any of the terms of your divorce agreement. The same caveat is true for any beneficiary changes you make to your life insurance policy and retirement accounts. For example, if your divorce agreement states that your ex must continue to remain your life insurance beneficiary, that cannot be changed.

Chances are that if you already have an estate plan with a power of attorney designated for healthcare and property, that person is your spouse. Likely, you'll want to choose another person. The sooner after your divorce is final, the better. If you were to have a car crash and end up in a coma, your ex would be the one making the decisions and taking care of your financial interests.

If you make changes to your will to remove your ex as the beneficiary on your retirement accounts, it's essential to make the same changes with the retirement plan providers. Those beneficiary designations override the designations in your will if the two are different. The same holds for life insurance policies. Any beneficiary changes need to be made with the insurer and not just in your estate plan.

It's worthwhile to start thinking about the changes or additions you want to make to your estate plan even before the divorce is final. Your attorney can help you and provide information regarding Arizona estate planning law.

Source: Forbes, "5 Things You Need To Do After Getting A Divorce," Mark Eghrari, accessed Sep. 28, 2017

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