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How does a Divorce affect my Will?

Family law cases usually take a large toll on your patience and mental stability.  Your life can be changing so quickly that it may be difficult to deal with day to day issues.  During divorce litigation, long term goals and planning often takes a backseat to what is considered more immediate concerns.  Unfortunately, the future is uncertain, and it is important to keep your wishes intact should the unthinkable happen.  So how does a divorce interact with your will or other estate planning issues?

Don’t wait until after your divorce.

Many people who are new to family law issues have a preconceived notion that the divorce will nullify their will.  It is then concluded that it is best to wait until after the divorce has been finalized to draft a new will and estate planning document.  In most cases, once a divorce has concluded the ex-spouse will be removed as the executor, trustee and/or guardian.  The rest of the will is then typically upheld.  However, it is generally good advice to update your will after a divorce, but there is no reason to wait.

Main areas to cover in your new will

If you are like most people, your spouse was going to the person in charge of your estate upon your death.  Since you are no longer going to be married to this person, it is likely this is no longer something you want.  Below are the main areas a will is going to address upon your passing.

Leaving of property

Now is the perfect time to determine who is going to be inheriting and be responsible for your property.  You can also name new alternate beneficiaries should your first choice happen to pass away before you do.

Executor

Who is going to be responsible for your estate after your death?  That person is known as the executor of your will.  Again, it is unlikely that you want this person to be your ex-spouse.  In most states, they will automatically be revoked as executor once the divorce is finished.  However, it is a wise choice to not leave your decision up to the courts and determine your new executor in a newly drafter will.

Update your power of attorney

Most of us have heard of this term before.  For those who are new to the phrase, a power of attorney gives someone the ability to act on your behalf.  Essentially this person would have the same decision making power that you have over your own life.  This is usually invoked when something like a serious medical issue happens and you are no longer able to think or act for yourself.  The person who has the power of attorney will be able to make medical and financial decisions for you.  It goes without saying that this should be the person you trust the most to make the right decision for you and your family.

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