Changing Your Will After Divorce

Estate Planning Lawyer Phoenix, AZ

If you are dealing with the emotional and financial burdens of a divorce, your will may be the furthest thing on your mind. However, following a divorce, you will need to take necessary steps to update your will. If you do not, then when you die, your belongings could be distributed in ways you do not want. Here are a few steps to ensure that your estate plan matches your current life and wants:

Get rid of your will and create a new one. The first step is to revoke your old will and create a new one. If you do not currently have a will, now is the perfect time to make one. It is not difficult to create a will, however, it is recommended to use an estate planning lawyer Phoenix, AZ relies on at Kamper Estrada, LLP. The same is true if you created a living trust while you were married.

A will is a document in which you:

  • Designate who receives your property
  • Name an executor to take care of your estate and tie up any loose ends upon your death
  • Designate a guardian to take care of your children if needed.

All of these things could be affected if you get a divorce. Let’s look at each of these items separately.

  1. Property: When most people create wills while married, everything gets left to their spouse. After you have gone through a divorce, this is most likely who you want to give your belongings to after you die. It is best to start completely over by creating a new will with new beneficiaries.
  2. Executor: In addition to not wanting your ex-spouse to take ownership of your belongings, you probably also do not want your former spouse to decide what happens to your estate. However, if you named your spouse as your executor while you were married, they will take responsibility of your estate unless you create a new will.
  3. Guardian: One of the main reasons that parents create wills is to name a guardian, someone to raise their children if for some reason neither parent is able to do so. If you do not want your former spouse to take care of your children because you do not think they are a good parent or a good person, it is most likely not something you can prevent. However, in your will you can name a guardian in case something were to happen to both parents of your children. If you feel that the other parent should not have custody of your children, it is important to write down the reasons why and attach it to your will for the judge to consider.

Update Beneficiary Designations. It is just as important to update your beneficiary designations as it is to update your will. Many assets are outside of your will and go to beneficiaries named on paperwork from the insurance company or bank. It is important to remember to update beneficiary designations for:

  • Retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs
  • Life insurance policies
  • Pay-on-death bank accounts