When you are considering a divorce, it is important to think beyond the immediate issues of property division, alimony, child support, and child custody. While you will need to focus on the central issues in your divorce, it is also essential to think about how other aspects of your life will shift and to respond accordingly. More specifically, when you do get divorced, you will likely want to make changes to your estate planning documents. Most spouses include one another in these documents, and most do not want to do so after a divorce. An article in Forbes discusses some important tips for estate planning after a divorce. We want to provide you with five essential tips for estate planning after your divorce.
Update Your Will
Wills are the most common estate planning documents, and many people have them regardless of age. A valid will is vital for any and all residents of Michigan. For most spouses, the most obvious person to inherit property is the other spouse. As such, most spouses who have wills list the other spouse as the one to receive a large percentage, if not all, of his or her property in the event of death. Although there may be some situations in which divorced spouses still leave property to their exes, most spouses want to change the terms of their will after a divorce. It is relatively easy to change your will at any point by working with an experienced lawyer.
Reconsider Your Beneficiaries
Whether you have a life insurance policy, a retirement account, or other types of policies or accounts in which you have named beneficiaries, you will likely want to reconsider the terms after a divorce. In some situations, especially when there are minor children from the marriage, one spouse still may name the other spouse (now an ex) as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy as long as the children are minors. However, many spouses want to remove their exes as beneficiaries and to name new beneficiaries on their policies.
Make Changes to Your Advance Directives
If you have ever engaged in any kind of estate planning, regardless of your age, you probably have advance directives. If you do not, you should consider them. Advance directives, according to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS), are forms that allow a person to make clear in writing what kind of health care he or she wants and who can make health care decisions in the event that the person becomes incapacitated.
There are different types of advance directives, but the ones that you should revisit after a divorce may include a health care power of attorney or patient advocate designation. These forms give another person the ability to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so for yourself. Most spouses name one another on these forms. After a divorce, spouses usually want to designate someone else to have this kind of responsibility.
Revisit Trusts and Revise if Necessary
Many Michigan residents have trusts set up in order to leave assets to a spouse and to other family members. Under Michigan law (MCL 700.7814), as the name suggests, a “revocable” trust usually can be amended. If you have named your spouse as the recipient of certain assets, or other family members tied solely to your spouse (such as an in-law), you may want to amend the terms of the trust.
Update Your Power of Attorney
Many spouses have signed powers of attorney, giving them the ability to make significant decisions for one another legally. Once you are divorced, you have most likely changed your mind about wanting your spouse to have this kind of power or authority. Accordingly, you should update any powers of attorney that exist and be sure to name another person who you trust to make decisions on your behalf.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer in Michigan
While you are going through a divorce, you should speak with your attorney about estate planning issues that you should be considering. An experienced divorce lawyer in Michigan can answer your questions today. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins for more information about divorce in Michigan.