Ending a marriage is never easy. For months or sometimes even years, your divorce may consume all your energy and dominate your thoughts. Reviewing and updating your estate plan is probably the last thing on your mind.
Unfortunately, it is risky to put off this task, or your ex could end up inheriting property you meant to leave to another. Taking some proactive steps during (or immediately after) your divorce can protect your property and estate plan.
1. Change your will
Most married couples leave their property to one another in their final will. You probably need to alter your estate plan if this was your arrangement. To remove your former spouse entirely, you can rewrite your will or create a new one.
Don’t forget to review all your estate planning documents (trusts, powers of attorney, etc.) to ensure you write your ex out entirely.
2. Address account designations
Like most, you may have named your then-spouse as the beneficiary on your retirement plans, insurance policies and bank accounts. Even if you change your will to exclude your ex, remember to remove them from other accounts.
Beneficiary designations in financial accounts typically overrule the contents of a will if they conflict, so remember to take them off all accounts.
3. Remove your ex’s access
Does your spouse know where you store important documents? Do they have access to safety deposit boxes or online accounts? An overlooked part of estate planning is controlling who can touch or control your assets and critical documents.
Remember to remove your ex’s ability to access documents, files and assets early in your divorce.
Guidance from someone with a background in Illinois estate planning can assist you in updating your estate plan, leaving you free to focus on your divorce.