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Updating your estate plan after divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2024 | Family Law

When you go through a divorce in Indiana, you face many life changes. Some of these changes may require you to update your estate plan. You should review and update an estate plan regularly, but when you undergo a significant life event, like divorce, it’s essential to update your estate plan to reflect your new lifestyle. You may need to change beneficiaries, information on power of attorney and the assets you wish to distribute after your death.  

Updating your estate plan  

After divorce, you may have changed your mind about who you wish to inherit your assets. Updating your estate plan allows you to make changes to your will that reflect your new wishes. You may need to change the person listed as a beneficiary to your life insurance or retirement funds. If your estate plan involves a trust, revisit it to see if there are any changes needed.  

Many estate plans contain detailed information about how to carry out your wishes in a medical emergency. If your estate plan includes how you wish to be cared for if you can’t make decisions on your own, be sure to update that information. Consider changing your power of attorney and updating your healthcare proxy to include the person you wish to make decisions for you in a time of need.  

When can you make changes? 

If you’re going through a divorce, especially a contentious one, you may want to make changes to your estate plan as quickly as possible. Some laws may prevent you from making changes until the divorce has been finalized. If you wish to change the beneficiary on your life insurance plan, rules dictate that you usually must wait until your divorce is finalized.  

Once you have the final divorce decree, you can likely move ahead with updating your will, trusts, advance healthcare directive and other parts of your estate plan. Keep in mind that some divorces may limit your options in making changes to your estate plan. This is especially true when it comes to certain assets like retirement accounts. Many divorce decrees will order that your ex-spouse have a right to part of your retirement account.  

Seek advice when making changes 

Divorce is a stressful enough event without the additional worries that can go along with updating your estate plan to reflect your new wishes. It’s helpful to seek advice from someone who understands Indiana’s estate planning laws and can help you make the changes necessary to protect your assets after your death. Once your divorce is finalized, you can make those changes so you have peace of mind that your wishes will be honored.