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Don't forget to update your estate plan when you divorce

When you are considering or going through a divorce, you may not be thinking about your estate plan. However, estate planning attorneys tell their clients that many life-changing events warrant a change to that plan. That includes divorce.

Therefore, it's essential to notify your estate planning attorney if you separate from or are in the process of divorcing your spouse. If your family law attorney and estate planning attorney are one and the same, that makes the process easier.

There are some key documents and designations that you'll likely want to change. For example, if your spouse has power of attorney authority for your finances and health care decisions or is designated to be your guardian if you're no longer able to care for yourself, you likely will want to change that.

If your spouse is the beneficiary of your retirement accounts, investment accounts, life insurance policy and other assets, and you want to remove him or her, talk with your attorney about how to do that. Remember that any financial institutions that hold your accounts won't automatically be notified of your change in marital status. You'll need to make the changes yourself.

If you and your spouse are no longer together, regardless of the legal status of your marriage, and you want to make changes to his or her authority or benefits should you die or become incapacitated either before or after the divorce is final, it's essential to notify your Arizona estate planning attorney as soon as possible.Your attorney will tell you what steps you can take now and then when the divorce becomes final.

Source: The Balance, "5 Estate Planning Documents to Update When Getting a Divorce," Patti Spencer, accessed Jan. 16, 2018

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