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If there is ever an urgent need to update your estate planning, it is during and following a divorce. Your world is turned inside-out and you must adapt your priorities to your new circumstances. During your negotiations, most major issues and assets are generally rectified. No matter how complete your divorce, there are almost always some residual issues.
In the vast majority of cases, you need a new will; many married couples list their spouse as the major beneficiary of their will and often also the executor of the estate. There is very little possibility that this represents your current wishes. The one positive you may take from this process is that you have a crystal clear idea of your current assets.
Guardianship of your children is another issue you will have to reconsider. Parents are the natural guardians of children. What if your spouse were to pre-decease you or otherwise be unable to care for your children? Now is the time to consider who you would most like to care for your children and commit those wishes to your new will.
You are probably already thinking at this point that you should update your powers of attorney. If you haven’t already made those changes for both healthcare and financial decisions, act quickly and decisively to do so.
Now that you have done the heavy lifting, you need to resist the urge to stop now. There are still life insurance and retirement accounts that you may want to name different beneficiaries for. Any bank or brokerage accounts with a pay on death feature should also be revised. Lastly, any credit card accounts in both names need resolution. Notifying the credit bureaus is a good idea and the credit report will give you additional information on any small accounts you may have overlooked.
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