Getting a divorce is an expensive and time-consuming process. You would likely prefer to avoid additional expenses and other legal matters for the foreseeable future after a recent divorce. However, your aversion to legal conversations might in a very vulnerable position.
Once you separate from your spouse, you likely need to update your estate plan. If you have officially and legally divorced, then making changes will be in your best interest. Why is it so important to change your estate plan after the end of your marriage?
Your spouse is probably your primary beneficiary
While at least to some extent under California law once the divorced is finalized your spouse is automatically removed as beneficiary and decision maker with respect to your estate plan, you want to be proactive in making the necessary changes and updates. Unless you structured your estate plan specifically to leave resources to charity or support your minor children, then the chances are very good that your estate plan primarily protects and benefits your spouse.
They may be the main recipient of any assets that you have in your name when you die and also the beneficiary named on your life insurance paperwork. Reviewing all of your documents, from your beneficiary designations with your insurance provider to your actual will or trust documents can help ensure that your ex will not receive most of your property when you die or be in a position to challenge your estate plan.
Your spouse could have legal or financial authority
If you drafted powers of attorney or advance directives to address the possibility of incapacitation, you may have named your spouse as the individual with the authority to access your private bank accounts or make decisions about your medical care.
Obviously, you don’t want someone who will fail to act in your best interests having control over your health care or your finances while you are incapable of asserting yourself. Removing your spouse from powers of attorney, trust documents and advance directives will help guarantee that people you trust will be the ones managing your care or your resources in an emergency scenario.
Finally, if the two of you share children, revising your estate plan can help guarantee there is an appropriate guardian to take care of your children and that your ex won’t be able to misappropriate any resources you need for your children when you die if your children are still minors when you die.
Careful and thorough estate planning will be an important step to take for your own protection following the end of your marriage.