When you start the process of getting a divorce, your attorney will also recommend you update your estate plan (or put one together if you’ve never had one). Otherwise, if you die without updating your will and trusts, as well as any beneficiary designations on life insurance and decision-makers on your power-of-attorney, your ex could inherit or have a say in your health decisions.
During your divorce, updating your estate is another sad topic and not something else you want to think about, but it’s important to take the time to do it right. You want to make sure your children and other loved ones are provided for after your death – not your ex-spouse. So while it may be an emotional drain to go through the process, it will mean you can end the divorce by telling yourself you’re truly done with the other person and this chapter of your life is closed.
Start by revoking your current will. Find it and tear it up! This should be satisfying in itself. Then, while you don’t have a will, if you die, your assets will pass based on the Minnesota rules for intestate succession (meaning when you die without a valid will). For individuals with few assets and a straightforward family situation, this may be sufficient, but for those with more substantial assets or a complex family, you may want to consider a different arrangement.
It’s a good idea at this point to talk to a lawyer with estate planning experience. Even if you think intestate succession makes sense for you, you may find you want to be able to designate your secondary beneficiaries. This sets who will inherit if your primary beneficiary pre-deceases you. You can also talk about the best way to protect your assets from estate taxes and make sure all important property is properly documented and titled.
You also want to choose someone to be the executor of your estate. This may have been your spouse previously, now you will want to choose a child, parent, or close friend to handle the estate instead.
If you have minor children, you may want to name a guardian in your will. While your spouse will likely get complete custody of your children upon your death, if your spouse was found by the court to be an unfit parent or dies as well, you want to name a backup.
Drafting an estate plan, especially after a divorce, can be stressful. Reach out to the experienced attorneys at Virtus Law Firm at 612.888.1000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will help you work through the best way to protect your future and your assets.