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Don't forget about your estate plan when divorcing

There are all kinds of critical roles a person can assign in their estate planning. These roles can involve many important things, including assets, estate administration, trust administration, medical decision-making authority and financial decision-making authority.

When a person is married when they set up their estate plan, it is not uncommon for them to assign these kinds of roles to their spouse. Examples of roles individuals sometimes name their spouses for include:

  • Will executor.
  • The trustee of a trust.
  • The person medical decision-making authority is given to in a medical power of attorney document.
  • The person financial decision-making authority is given to in a durable power of attorney document.
  • The beneficiary of a will, trust, pay-on-death bank account, retirement account, life insurance policy, brokerage account or annuity.

Of course, marriages don't always last. When a person gets divorced, it is very important for them to carefully think about what roles they have assigned to their ex in their estate planning and how many of these roles they want to reassign.

If they don't do this, it could result in their ex-spouse someday getting assets or control they don't want them to have.

Often, a divorcing individual will want to reassign the roles that they previously assigned to their ex in their estate planning. What steps need to be taken to reassign a given role depends on the role in question, and what sort of estate planning device it is connected to. Estate planning attorneys can advise individuals who have gotten divorced on role reassignments and other estate planning updates.

Source: MarketWatch, "Divorcing? How to make sure your ex doesn’t end up with your assets," Melissa Montgomery-Fitzsimmons, March 7, 2016

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