The last thing you may be thinking about following a divorce is the importance of updating your will. Chances are, your will is one that you created with your ex spouse. Because of this, the decisions you made regarding your estate likely encompass them as well. Your estate has probably changed significantly following your divorce, which is why it’s more important than ever to update your will to reflect the changes in your life.
Your Ex May Stand to Inherit Everything
If you and your ex shared a will, you can either update your will or create a new one altogether. Often all assets are left to the living partner in wills shared by married people. This is a key reason to make changes to your will. Although some people may still choose to include their ex in their will in some way, it’s not likely that you want them to inherit everything you own.
Power of Attorney and Health Care Directives
Power of Attorney and Health Care Directives are two significant aspects to developing a will. If you were to become incapacitated, someone can be appoint to make decisions for you. Power of attorney covers legal and financial decisions, while health care directives appoint someone to make medical decisions. It’s important that when making such changes, you shred or destroy and previous documentation that is outdated.
Guardianship over Your Children
In most cases your ex would assume sole guardianship over the children you shared together if you were to pass away. But, what happens if you believe they are unfit to take on this responsibility? Bypassing your ex may be difficult to do unless there is a substantial history or evidence that supports their inability to parent the child. Writing a letter outlining your concerns that is included with your will may allow the judge to review your concerns. It’s important to be aware that despite your best efforts, it’s highly likely that your ex would be appointed guardianship over the children you share.
Your Loved Ones May be Impacted
Dealing with an outdated will can be a real headache for your loved ones. What if your family is unable to locate your ex? Or your ex is really the last person who should be managing your estate after you die? This may result in a number of problems for your family. During such an emotional time, the last thing they should have to manage is such a contentious and complex situation.
Meeting with an Attorney
Many people may still choose to include their ex in their will in some way, especially if you share children together. Although this may be the case, many do not want an ex spouse appointed as the executor of the estate or given power of attorney in the event you are incapacitated. Following a divorce, it may be in your best interest to meet with an attorney to create a new will. They can help you identify new beneficiaries, ensure that all of your accounts have been updated, and identify a new executor. An attorney can make sure that nothing is left out. After a divorce, your will is probably the last thing on your mind, but by diligently tackling this task, you can ensure that complications do not arise for loved ones if you were to pass.
It can be a long time before a divorce is finally resolved, because of this, there are many loose ends that need to be sorted out. As a result, it’s not uncommon for people to forget that their will needs to be updated. Many people think they have plenty of time to make the necessary changes to their will. Unfortunately, it’s possible for the unexpected to occur. By failing to update your will, you risk your ex having a significant amount of power in the event you pass away or are incapacitated. Contact a wills lawyer Ridgefield, CT relies on who can help you review and update your will following a divorce.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Sweeney Legal for their insight into estate planning, wills, and divorce.