Many people say “I do” with just one document: a marriage certificate, even though I always recommend having a prenup. However, when a marriage dissolves, you need to be better armed with documentation to help you with estate planning as a newly single.
In the years you built a life together with someone, both your name and your ex-spouse’s name were most likely linked, from the small things, like a gym membership, to the most vital, such as an advanced directive giving permission to your spouse to make end-of-life decisions for you. Revisiting your estate plan after a divorce is an absolute must. To get you thinking about what needs to be done, here are three documents you need to safeguard your wealth and health in your new post-divorce era.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
People often confuse a healthcare power of attorney and living will. A living will or advanced directive is limited to deathbed requests if there’s no hope for recovery, while a power of attorney covers all healthcare decisions and lasts only for as long as you can’t make healthcare decisions. Following a divorce, revisit your healthcare power of attorney to address important medical concerns such as dialysis, blood transfusion, and other crucial concerns.
Living Will/Advanced Directive
An advanced directive covers the most serious of medical concerns, such as a DNR. Some people feel more comfortable changing their advanced directive when the divorce complaint is filed. If something were to happen to you during divorce proceedings, your soon-to-be ex-spouse will be the one making the literal life-or-death decision on your behalf.
If you don’t want your ex-spouse to receive a portion of your estate, you likely need to update your will. You should also name new beneficiaries to your life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and pay-on-death bank accounts. You will also want to name a new executor that will be in charge of carrying out the wishes in your will. If you don’t have a will to change, now’s the time to get one.
In naming a new power of attorney and executor, while also setting up a living will make sure to sit down with the people you name to spell out exactly what you want so they won’t be blindsided if they’re ever called upon.
These documents are crucial not only for your wealth but also for your well-being. Set up an appointment with your attorney to make sure you’re protecting yourself and your family in every possible way.