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Estate plans need updating after divorce

Jan. 22, 2019

Getting divorced was likely not a life change that many California residents had planned for well ahead of time. However, it can happen to any married couple, and the impacts can be far-reaching. If individuals took the time to plan ahead when it came to their estate plans, they may benefit from updating their plans after their divorces are finalized.

Often, people include their spouses in their estate plans, and because of this, it is important to make changes to those plans after divorce. If modifications are not made, ex-spouses could potentially end up still benefiting from an estate or end up having certain controlling powers. Though state laws may address this scenario, making updates is still wise. For instance, individuals who named their then-spouses as power of attorney agents may want to revoke that power after divorce and name new agents.

Another change to consider is beneficiary designations. Some people will name their spouses as beneficiaries to payable-on-death accounts like retirement plans or insurance policies, and changing those designations may help prevent an ex-spouse from receiving those benefits. Additionally, a divorce order may put obligations on a person that need addressing even after the person dies, and understanding how to address those obligations in an estate plan is wise.

Estate plans are immensely beneficial, but outdated information can cause serious problems. These plans should be updated periodically and after major life events, like divorce. If California residents are uncertain about the changes they may need to make to their plans after ending their marriages, they may want to discuss their situations with their legal counsel.