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Adjusting your estate plan after a divorce

Divorce comes with many challenges and changes. You may find yourself needing to find a new place of residence, start a new career or adjust to living on a one-person income. Financial matters and custody issues often take precedence in divorces, but it's important not to neglect your estate planning in the process.

If you did your estate plan while you were still married, it's quite likely that your now or soon-to-be ex featured prominently as a proxy, power of attorney and/or beneficiary. Now that your relationship status has changed, your estate plan also needs another look. While it may seem like a divorce would automatically remove your ex from your will and other end-of-life paperwork, this isn't always the case.

Before you make any changes, make sure that you know if your divorce settlement sets any kind of limits on what you can do with your estate. For example, some people must keep the ex-spouse as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy until the children are 18. This ensures that if one parent passes, the other has enough financial support to provide for the children.

When you're reviewing and revising documents, make sure that you aren't forgetting any assets, such as old retirement accounts, insurance policies and annuities. Keep in mind that wills and other estate documents can be contested, and you want to make your wishes as complete and clear as possible. If you have questions about what should be revised and how or what you need to do to stay in compliance with your divorce order, an attorney can help.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "After Divorce, Separate Your Estate Plans Too," Liz Moyer, accessed June 24, 2016

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