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Estate Planning After a Divorce

Published: Sep 25, 2019 in Divorce, Family Law, Legal Blog
Man working on estate planning documents

Written by Anthony Piccirilli

Ending a marriage a difficult process and can leave you feeling completely drained. Once your divorce is finalized, however, you need to then turn your attention to estate planning. You need to plan how your assets will be distributed, and who will take care of your children. Many questions require your attention. Failing to update your important documents can negate many of the items you negotiated as part of your divorce.

At Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC, we help our clients through the process of estate planning after a divorce. With a careful eye towards the details that matter most, we work hard at securing an end result that’s best for you and your family. To learn more about how a Pittsburgh divorce lawyer can help in this situation, contact us today at (412) 471-5100.

Make an Inventory of Your Estate Planning Instruments

The first step is to take some time and figure out what documents need to be updated following your divorce. Such documents include:

  • Your will
  • Any trusts
  • IRA and 401k accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Powers of attorney
  • Any financial accounts that are payable on death to a beneficiary

Generally speaking, your estate will be administered according to the documents that direct how your assets are to be distributed. Your divorce does not automatically render those documents null and void, so they will need to be updated accordingly.

Give Your Divorce Documents to Your Estate Planner

Your estate planner will need to know what obligations you have under your divorce agreement with your former spouse. For example, you may be required to keep them as a named beneficiary on certain accounts. Having your divorce documents will also ensure that your updated estate plan is consistent with your divorce, especially when it comes to child custody and support issues.

Revise or Revoke Your Will and Trusts

After ending your marriage, you’ll want to make sure your former spouse doesn’t inherit any of your assets. You also want to ensure that they do not have any control over your estate if they were named as your executor or trustee. The best thing you can do is revoke your will or trust, revise an existing one, or have a new one prepared.

Update Your Beneficiaries

Retirement accounts, investment funds, and insurance policies often require that you name a beneficiary in the event of your death. Review your financial accounts and insurance policies, and remove your ex as a beneficiary wherever necessary.

Reconsider Guardianship and Custody Issues

If you pass away without any direction, your ex will have custody of your children. This is obviously problematic if you have concerns about their fitness as a parent. With careful planning, you can name someone else who can act as a guardian in your place if your ex-wife or ex-husband is unfit to care for your kids at the time of your death. While you may not be able to prevent your ex-spouse from getting custody in any circumstances, it will at least mitigate some of your concerns regarding the guardianship of your children.

Obtain New Powers of Attorney

You also need to revoke any powers of attorney (POA) that give your former spouse the deciding power on your behalf. This can include medical directives as well as financial issues. Get new POAs drafted that name another family member or trusted friend who can make important decisions for you in case you are incapacitated.

Contact a Pittsburgh Divorce Lawyer for Help Today

Divorce is hard, but it can also be the beginning of a better future. Protect this future by investing in some estate planning after your divorce. At Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC, we help our clients protect the things that are most important to them. You and your loved ones can’t afford to wait. Contact us today at (412) 471-5100 to schedule a consultation today.