Estate Planning Tasks to Complete Before Divorce Proceedings

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Estate Planning Tasks to Complete Before Divorce Proceedings


Divorce proceedings affect both you and your spouse’s rights to shared property significantly. Amid the immediacy of everything that is happening, it’s easy to overlook how a divorce affects your estate. However, there are several important steps that you should take to ensure that you have adequately revised any existing plans that you have made for your estate.

Determine If Your Spouse Has a Power of Attorney

If you’ve previously given your spouse a power of attorney that allows them to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf, you will likely need to rescind it. Get in touch with the counsel who helped you with your estate planning to find out what you will need to do to make sure that your spouse can no longer authorize transactions or other matters on your behalf.

Revise Your Will or Execute a Will

If your will provides that your spouse is a primary beneficiary, you may wish to consider revising it. Your will may state that a provision favoring your spouse will be nullified upon the termination of your marriage. However, until a divorce decree is finalized, any such provision will remain in effect. If you haven’t executed a will, your estate will go to probate. The jurisdiction in which you live will likely determine that your spouse will receive your estate unless and until your divorce is finalized. You may elect to execute a will appointing another family member or friend as a beneficiary and specifically addressing what you wish to leave to your spouse.

Review Your Prenuptial Agreement

If you and your spouse entered into a prenuptial agreement, you should have your legal counsel review prior to beginning any type of estate planning. The agreement may contain provisions about what your spouse is entitled to in the event of your passing, and you want to ensure that all of the stipulations in your will comply with any such provisions.

Examine Your Revocable Trust and Make Changes if Necessary

If you and your spouse have established a trust to provide for your family, you may need to review its terms with your counsel. If possible, you may wish to assign a new trustee to replace your spouse.

If the attorney handling your divorce deals exclusively in family law, you should seek help from counsel who is experienced in matters relating to wills, trusts, and estates. Working with the right counsel can help remove much of the stress of what may seem like a complicated situation to navigate.

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