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Estate Planning Updates After Divorce

Estate Planning Updates After Divorce

By: M. Scott Gordon

Whether you recently got divorced, are in the middle of a divorce, or considering divorce, it is important to think about how divorce will impact other aspects of your life. When you get divorced, you should also consider making updates to your estate planning. Chicago area residents of all ages should have an estate plan, including a will and advance directives concerning healthcare and decision-making in case you become incapacitated. Estate planning also involves matters concerning beneficiaries for insurance purposes. Given the ways in which a married couple’s lives are usually very intertwined in the estate planning process, a divorce means it is time to take a close and fresh look at a variety of documents and to make changes to your estate plan.

An article in Forbes discusses some of the estate planning updates you should make after a divorce. We want to address some of those changes and provide you with a list of updates you should consider once your divorce is finalized.

Change Your Will

The first document you should change as soon as possible after your divorce is your will. For most Chicago area residents who are married, a spouse is the beneficiary of most separate property and specific assets in the event of death. However, once you are divorced, it is unlikely you want your ex-spouse to inherit some of your most cherished belongings or other financially valuable assets. Instead, you probably want to ensure your children or other family members will be able to inherit those items. To make sure your spouse is not still the person who will inherit your property, you should work with a lawyer to quickly make legal changes to your will that will be upheld.

Reconsider Your Advance Directives 

In Illinois, there are four types of advance directives. As the Illinois Department of Public Health explains, an advance directive is a statement you prepare that describes how you want medical decisions to be made in the future, if you are not able to make them yourself. The four types of advance directives in Illinois include the following:

  • Healthcare power of attorney, which names another person who can make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so yourself;
  • Living will, which states what your healthcare preferences are, especially for things like life-saving treatment, if you are unable to communicate or make such a decision for yourself;
  • Mental health treatment preference declaration; and
  • Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR)/Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), which can clarify whether you want to be resuscitated.

While some of these advance directives may not need to be changed, like many married people, you probably named your spouse as your healthcare power of attorney. You will want to make new decisions about naming someone to perform this task.

Changing Beneficiaries 

A divorce also means you should reconsider who you have listed as beneficiaries on your life insurance policy and other related policies. In most cases, married couples name their spouse as the beneficiary. Once you are divorced, this plan probably will change.

Contact a Chicago Divorce Attorney for More Information 

To learn more about updating your estate planning documents after a divorce, you should speak with a Chicago divorce attorney. An advocate at our firm can talk with you today. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates for more information.