Effects of Divorce on Estate Plan
Estate Planning and Divorce Attorney
The majority of married couples go through the estate planning process together, drafting documents to make each other primary beneficiaries. In the event of divorce, the wishes of former spouses often change. This means that you will need to update your estate plan accordingly or risk your true wishes not being honored after you pass.
If you are divorced or in the process of divorcing, Oklahoma Kristin R. Drake can help you revise your estate plan accordingly. Providing sound legal counsel at affordable rates is something that Attorney Drake prides herself in doing for her clients.
How Does Divorce Effect Your Estate Plan?
If you drafted your estate planning documents with your former spouse or soon to be former spouse, you most likely made them the primary beneficiary. While Oklahoma law does provide some safeguards in these situations, they only apply if your will was properly drafted according to state law. Oklahoma has a default rule that means that any gift you made to your spouse in your estate plan will most likely automatically revoke after a divorce. This means that the gift will then automatically go to an alternate beneficiary or the residuary beneficiary. However, you may not want this to happen. The best thing to do after a divorce is to revoke your previous will and draft a new one to reflect your new circumstances.
In addition to changing your will and trust beneficiary designations, you will also want to address the following:
- Beneficiary designations on accounts: You may not even remember doing so, but your spouse or former spouse is likely listed as your primary beneficiary on your life insurance, retirement accounts, and bank accounts. If you do not change these designations in the event of divorce, after you pass, the institution holding the account will review your account, look at the listed beneficiary, and distribute as such. Change your beneficiary designation as soon as possible.
- Power of attorney: If you have put a power of attorney in place granting your former spouse things like potentially broad financial powers, you will need to execute a document revoking this power and distribute copies of said document to all relevant financial institutions. A financial power of attorney can grant an agent far reaching and impactful powers, such as the ability to sell your property and make withdraw money from bank accounts. Revoke the power of attorney, you can do so while your divorce is pending, and execute a new one of need be.
- Health care surrogate: A health care surrogate, designation of patient advocate, or advance directive, establishes who you want to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. In light of divorce, you may very well want to change who will be making these important decisions for you. Revoke the previous document, execute a new one which will appoint another person you trust to be your agent, and notify your health care providers of the change.
Watching out for your best interests through divorce and estate planning.
Make sure that your estate plan always reflects your true wishes. Things change in life, relationships included. If you are divorced or going through a divorce, contact Attorney Kristin R. Drake and make sure that all of your plans for the future accurately reflect what you want.