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Estate Planning After Getting A Divorce

Getting divorced can be painful and overwhelming. Getting the right legal paperwork in place can help ease the burden.

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Getting divorced can be painful and overwhelming. It can seem like going through a divorce involves endless paperwork and other tasks that stop you from getting on with your life. In addition to the paperwork and the tasks that go along with finalizing a divorce, a recently divorced person cannot overlook the important changes that need to be made in their estate planning.

Many recently divorced people make it clear that their ex-spouse should never inherit from them or make life decisions for them - but that is what may happen if your estate plan is not updated. Review the below tips in order to position yourself, your loved ones, and your assets in a way that satisfies your goals.

Revise or create your Will and Living Trust

If you don’t have a will or trust, or if your will or trust leaves assets directly to your minor children, your ex-spouse will likely be appointed by a judge, after you pass away, to control the inheritance you leave your minor children - until your children reach the age of majority when your children control it themselves.

If you’d prefer to keep your ex-spouse out of your estate, make sure you update your last will and testament or living trust to ensure that your ex-spouse is not the one who will make all your estate settlement decisions, and make sure that your ex-spouse will not control the inheritance that you leave behind for your minor children.

Financial and healthcare powers

Some recently divorced people fail to do anything about the fact that their ex-spouse is listed as their agent on their financial and health care powers of attorney. Unless you want your ex-spouse making your business and medical decisions for you in the event you can’t make your own decisions, name a relative, friend, or trusted advisor to act as your agent on your general durable power of attorney and your healthcare legal documents.

Update your beneficiary designations

The disposition of many assets you own when you die, such as life insurance, employer retirement plans, individual retirement accounts, and health savings accounts, are not controlled by your will or living trust. These accounts, when you pass away, are paid directly to the person listed as your beneficiary. If you established these accounts while you were married, you probably named your spouse as your beneficiary. Make sure you change those beneficiary designations, if appropriate, to meet your new post-divorce estate planning objectives.


If you have recently gone through a divorce, you may feel somewhat fed up with the legal system. However, creating or updating your estate plan after a divorce can be one of the wisest business and financial moves you can make. Take charge of your future and the future of your loved ones by removing the “ex” from those previous estate planning documents.

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About the author

MyAdvocate Team

This post was written by MyAdvocate's team of estate planning attorneys.