Now that your divorce is final, it’s time to update your will to reflect your new single status. Since you are now a single person, it’s even more important for you to plan for the unexpected. Here are some tips to consider when you're planning your estate, changing your will and making certain everything is taken care of in the event of your death.
1. Get a New Will.
If you had a will during your marriage naming your spouse as a beneficiary, then after the divorce, most states will treat it as if your spouse died before you. Your will may have a clause in it that states who will take under the will in the event that your spouse dies first. It’s much better and cleaner to revoke that prior will and start fresh with a new will. This is especially true if you have minor children. You can set up a trust to provide for your children until they’re older. You can also list specific sentimental items that you want to go to your children. For example, you may want your class ring to go to one child and your coin collection to go to the other. Your executor will not know this unless you list it somewhere. Although you can write your own will, it’s best to have an attorney draft it to make sure it is properly drafted so it will be admitted to probate quickly and easily.
2. If You Remarry, Look at Estate Planning.
If you remarry, you will definitely have to look at your estate planning again to make sure you don’t inadvertently leave someone out. For example, if you have a will that gives everything to your children, you may want to change that to leave some of it to your new spouse or simply purchase a life insurance policy to provide for the spouse. If you redo your will and leave everything to your new spouse, you’ve just cut your children out completely. Again, a life insurance policy with your children named as beneficiaries will correct that. 3. Help Your Executor.
After the will is done, make sure your executor and other friends and family members have copies. Too many times I’ve seen original wills “disappear” with no copies to be found anywhere. If that happens, you have to let the state decide where your assets go and it may not be what you want. Another good idea is to leave a list of all your passwords for your accounts you have online. If you’re not comfortable giving that to anyone, just let them know where it is in your home such as a filing cabinet. You will also want to make a list of your life insurance policies, retirement plans, contacts such as your CPA, attorney, financial adviser, etc. and any other relevant information. With this information, your executor won’t be left guessing as to what you have and where it is. Without this information, your executor will have to dig through all your papers and hope that something comes in the mail such as a life insurance premium statement to tip him off as to what you have. Nancy Perry is an attorney in Texas with The Perry Law Firm, L.L.P. Please visit her Web site at www.TexasLaw4U.com or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.