When you and your spouse complete your divorce, often there are many changed expectations and plans. In most marriages, the spouses designate one another as their beneficiaries on life insurance, on financial accounts, retirement plans and wills and trusts. However, when spouses get divorced, often their plans for the future- or in the event of their untimely death change. For many people, once they complete a divorce, they are worn out from the litigation or court process and they want to take a step back and relax. However, before you disconnect from legal considerations, it is equally as important to make sure you have made plans for the future. In the aftermath of a divorce, do not fail to protect your future.
What are the Essential Steps to Take After a Divorce or Other Family Law Litigation?
1. Change your beneficiary designations. In some situations, divorced parties will remember to request a referral to change their will or trust but they forget to check on their individual beneficiary designations. Often, even if you change your will or trust, if you fail to update beneficiary designations for retirement plans, life insurance and other similar things, your former spouse will remain the beneficiary of those accounts in the event of your untimely passing. If this is not your intention, make sure you review your accounts and update these designations.
2. Update your will or trust. While a divorce will generally revoke terms of a will that distribute assets to your former spouse, there are often other changes that are needed. For example, you may need to select a new executor for your will, a new trustee or even change terms allowing your former spouse to hold money on behalf of your children. Following a divorce it is always advisable to review your trust or will and confirm that the terms remain applicable.
3. Appoint a guardian for your children or update this designation if needed. If you have minor children and both parents share custody, in both Kansas and Missouri, the other parent is presumed to be the automatic/guardian of the children. However, if both parents die, the court, in the future, may look to the person you named or designated. Thus, this is important to designate if you have specific desires or intentions about the needs and best interests of your children.
4. Update your Health Care Proxies. For many people, when they engage in estate planning, they will also sign documents allowing a third party to make decisions about their health, including whether life support should be terminated. If you no longer have trust in your former spouse or partner to make those decisions, it is important that you designate a new person to serve in that role.
5. Change or Update your Power of Attorney. Following your divorce, most people do not want their former spouse or partner to make decisions about their finances or bank accounts. If you previously executed a power of attorney or durable power of attorney naming your former partner, make sure you provide him or her a revocation of the powers listed in the power of attorney, as well as naming a new trusted friend or family member.
6. If you have a financial planner or estate and trust attorney, make sure you notify him or her about your settlement agreement or divorce decree of judgment issued. It is important that he or she know about the obligations that you have to your former spouse or partner and your children.
At Pingel Family Law, it is important that you consider not only the divorce process but also the changes in your future based on the divorce. We are knowledgeable in helping to identify and protect issues that may develop after your case is over and we work with our clients as well as estates and trusts attorneys to plan for your future. If you want to discuss these or other post-divorce issues, call Pingel Family Law at (816) 208-8130 today for your consultation.