You have a lot to remember during divorce proceedings: property division and maintenance, child support and custody, etc. But, did your attorney mention that you should also consider your estate planning? Without informed estate planning advice, the law automatically grants your spouse certain rights, even though you have already filed for divorce. If you already have estate planning in place, you may want to revise your Will or Powers of Attorney for Healthcare or Property to remove your spouse’s name.
Your Ex Could Make Important Decisions Regarding Your Healthcare
For example, if you became incapacitated, the Probate Act provides that your spouse is the person who would be appointed your Health Care Surrogate, which means your soon to be ex-husband or ex-wife will be the person making all of the important decisions regarding your health and medical treatment.
Your Ex Could Manage Your Financial Affairs and Property
How To Prevent This: Immediately prepare a Power of Attorney for Property that will name a person of your choice to manage all of financial affairs and property if you become incapacitated.
Don't Divorce Without A Will
What If I Already Have Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Property?
- Your spouse is probably named as your Power of Attorney: Update these documents to name a new person of your choice. It is also likely that your Will leaves a considerable amount or all of your estate to your spouse. You can reduce the spouse’s share of your estate; however, the Probate Act provides that your spouse is entitled to 1/3 of your estate regardless of the provisions of your Will until your divorce is finalized.
- Finances: In addition to preparing or updating your estate planning documents, if you have accounts that designate beneficiaries, such as life insurance accounts, you may want to change your beneficiaries. However, some retirement accounts require spousal consent in order to name someone other than your spouse as the primary beneficiary.