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Estate Planning Documents: What to Update After Divorce

If you are going through a divorce, you will have a number of things to deal with, including your estate plans. If you have created an estate plan with your soon-to-be ex, you will need to take steps to remove them from your plan. An experienced estate planning attorney can go over your documents with you to ensure that your spouse is removed completely from your plans.

If you are going through a divorce, you may need to revise your:

  • Will or trust
  • Powers of attorney
  • Advanced Health Care Directive or living will
  • Guardianship of your children

Divorce & Your Will or Trust

In Arizona, there are laws that prevent ex-spouses from collecting from inaccurate wills. If you haven’t changed your will after your divorce, your spouse’s provisions will be ignored if the will goes through probate in court. If the will is handled privately, however, it is possible that your will may be honored as written. It is important to ensure that your will is changed to reflect your divorce and that your ex is removed from your will.

Your trust may be handled differently than a will would. If you have an irrevocable trust, your ex-spouse may be entitled to your estate. When making an irrevocable trust, it is important to specify that language such as “husband” or “wife” should be applied to the individual to whom you are currently married, and not a specific person, such as an ex-spouse. If your will is revocable at the time of your death, it is likely that it will be interpreted to exclude your ex-spouse.

Divorce & Power of Attorney or Guardianship

In Arizona, power of attorney can be revoked at any time by the person who instituted it. You must notify your spouse in writing if you wish to revoke their power of attorney. If power of attorney includes guardianship of minor children, this appointment is only revoked after the final divorce decree.

Divorce & Your Living Will

Your living will or medical directives dictate the treatment and interventions you wish for if you are incapacitated or dying. If your spouse is listed as an agent on your medical directive, you will need to ensure that they are removed from that position. Similarly, your soon-to-be-ex should be removed from any insurance policies, pension plans, or other contractual agreements that will provide payments to your spouse.

As soon as you file for divorce, you should remove your spouse from your end of life plans. Even if divorce automatically removes your spouse from your plans, it is important to ensure that they are removed without complications. Should something happen to you before the final divorce decree, your spouse will not be able to collect inheritance or wield power of attorney.

Are you going through a divorce? Our Phoenix estate planning lawyers can help you remove your spouse from your estate planning documents and revise them to match your current situation. At Thies & Lihn, PLLC, our team has more than 30 years of collective experience to draw from and we offer personalized client service to suit your needs. Contact our team by calling (602) 900-9860 to request a free case evaluation.