Your estate plan might not be top of mind as you consider or prepare for divorce – but it should be. You’ll likely want to make multiple changes to it as you and your spouse end your marriage. The timing of these changes, however, requires some planning. You will also need to consider the terms of your divorce and your final agreements to ensure that you don’t make any estate plan changes that conflict with those.
If you don’t have any kind of estate planning documents in place, this new phase of your life will be a good time to consider getting them. Even if you don’t have an “estate plan,” if you’ve designated beneficiaries on some of your accounts and insurance policies, you’ve done some estate planning.
Let’s assume that you have a pretty thorough estate plan. Here are some modifications you’ll likely want to make. Certainly, you don’t have to. However, you should at least weigh the possibility.
Powers of attorney
If you’ve given your spouse power of attorney (POA) over your finances and/or health care and made them your health care proxy if you become incapacitated, you’ll probably want to give that authority to someone else. You can do this at any time, without waiting for the divorce to be final.
Your will or living trust
If you’ve decided not to leave your soon-to-be ex anything in your will (or your living trust, if that’s where you’ve designated your beneficiaries), you can disinherit them – once the divorce is final. Under Michigan law, a current spouse typically can always claim part of an estate whether they’re mentioned in the estate plan or not. You’ll likely want to wait and see what the property division agreement looks like before you make that change anyway.
You’ll want to have experienced estate planning guidance as you make these changes to help ensure that they don’t conflict with any of your divorce agreements. If you and your spouse are able to keep each other informed as you both make modifications to your estate plans, you’ll have a clearer idea of your financial future after divorce.