The contents of your estate planning documents determine who acts on your behalf in an emergency and also your legacy when you die. If you have these documents in place, you likely put a lot of consideration into them, and so you might take for granted that you have protection regardless of what the future holds. If you do not have documents in place, you should obtain them.
You may also currently feel very burned out from meeting with lawyers and going to court. If your marital status has changed or will soon change, you should not delay addressing crucial estate planning matters for your own protection and the benefit of the people you love.
What estate planning changes do you need to make?
1. Remove your spouse as a beneficiary
Your spouse may have been the person you named as a beneficiary in your will or trust. You may also have filed paperwork with your life insurance company naming them the primary beneficiary of your policy.
You will need to create or revise your will or trust to prevent your spouse from inheriting. You also need to separately update the records with your life insurance company. Failing to do so might mean your spouse will be the one who receives the payout when you die.
2. Take away their authority
Is your spouse the person authorized to make medical choices in your advance directive or financial decisions in your power of attorney? Is he or she the one that will handle your estate if you die?
You will very likely want to eliminate your spouse’s authority over your medical and financial matters, as well as any power they may have had related to your estate after you die.
3. Review how you pass property to your children
If you share children with your spouse, you will need to make some changes to how you protect your children in your estate plan. For example, if you die while your children are still minors, everything your children should inherit may initially be under the control of your spouse until the children turn 18.
To protect your children’s inheritance and minimize the possibility of misconduct, you may want to create a trust, so that your spouse won’t control how much of the inheritance your children actually receive.
When you create or make the right changes to your estate planning documents, you avoid a scenario where someone without your best interests at heart has control over your care or becomes the primary beneficiary of your estate. Updating your estate planning documents when your life changes will protect you and also the people that you love.