Our “Ask a Question” mailbag addresses the issue of which documents to change when divorcing.: “My Wife is divorcing me, what estate planning documents should I change to protect myself?”
“I am not sure which documents to change when divorcing. My Wife has filed for divorce, what estate planning documents should I change to protect myself?”
Three Important Estate Planning Documents to Change When Divorcing.
Once your marriage begins to unravel, here is three estate planning document you should change immediately.
Durable Power of Attorney.
Durable General Power of Attorney: During the divorce process, who do you wish to handle your financial decisions, pay your bills or even negotiate your divorce should you become incapacitated? If you have already given your spouse this power, it is time to change your Durable General Power of Attorney. Or, if you have never signed one, it is time for you to select who should protect you. Who speaks for you if you are unable to speak?
Medical Power of Attorney, Health Care Declaration or Living Will.
Medical Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will: Should you have a medical emergency during your divorce and be unable to speak for yourself, your spouse is still the person the law recognizes as having the default power to make your medical decisions. Given that you are getting a divorce, you likely would prefer to name someone else. Signing a new Medical Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will allows you to select a neutral and friendly person who can represent your wishes.
Updating Your Will.
Last Will and Testament: If you have a Will that gives your assets to your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you likely will wish to name new heirs. If you have no Will, the Rules of Intestacy will probably give much, if not all, of your assets to your spouse. These rules apply until you are divorced. If you have an old Will, it likely gives much if not all of your estate to your spouse. Both are reasons to update your Will. Name a neutral Executor. Let’s craft a new Will that reflects your real wishes. If you have children, your new Will can create trusts and appoint a friendly Trustee.
There Might Be More, Depending on Your Circumstances.
These are the three top documents you should immediately consider changing if your marriage is ending. But there might be others. Other changes might be needed depending on your particular circumstances, assets or your children’s ages.
I focus my practice exclusively on estate planning matters. I would be happy to brainstorm with you and come up with a plan that reflects your circumstances. Let’s talk!
Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation It’s All We Do!
Peter Klenk, Esq., LL.M.