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Updating your estate plan after a divorce

Divorce introduces a lot of change. The decisions needed to split one household into two can be time-consuming, challenging and emotional to make. Once you come to an agreement on items concerning your children, marital property and more, you may breathe a sigh of relief in moving past this stage of your life.

However, even after the finalization of your divorce, there are steps to take as a newly single Arizonan. One of the most critical steps is to update your estate plan. If you and your spouse created a will and other estate planning documents together, thoroughly updating these documents can guard against uncertainty and assure that your wishes are up to date. Here are several key documents to update:

Your will and trust

Your will is potentially the most critical part of your broader estate plan, along with your trust. Revise these documents to avoid your ex-spouse inadvertently receiving your property or assets later on. If your will or trust names your ex-spouse as executor or trustee, update these roles to instead name your child, sibling, professional or more. Make sure your updated plan complies with your divorce agreement, if you still do have any obligations to carry out to your ex.

Your power of attorney, living will and more

Documents like your power of attorney and living will plan for the unexpected. If your power of attorney gives your ex-spouse authority to act on your behalf for financial matters, The Balance advises you to rename another as your agent in the event of future incapacity.

Similarly, update your living will if the document named your ex as the agent to act on your behalf on future critical health care issues. Designate a relative, friend or more to carry out your wishes in a potential health emergency.

Your beneficiary designations

While many may rush to change their will after a divorce, they may be slower to update beneficiary designations. Exercise caution in updating your beneficiaries to comply with your divorce agreement. Items to consider updating will likely include your retirement plan, pension, life insurance policy, investment accounts and more.

Life events like marriage, divorce, births and more are a common motivator to update an estate plan. However, after you have updated your plan, don't forget to regularly check in every few years or so. Doing so can strengthen your plan and avoid overlooked or outdated wishes.

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