Untitled---2023-11-28T091010.800.jpgWhen you choose to end your marriage through divorce, you will need to address many subjects in connection with your finances, your living arrangements, your relationships with your children and other family members, and other parts of your life. Dealing with all of this can be overwhelming, and it can be easy to overlook certain subjects that may not seem as important in the midst of legal proceedings and major life changes. Estate planning can be one topic that may seem like something that can be addressed in the future rather than right away. However, the topics which get addressed in your estate plan can have a monumental impact on your future, so you should not put off dealing with these topics. An attorney who has experience in both family law and estate planning can provide valuable guidance on what subjects you will need to address and what decisions you should make as you work to complete the divorce process.

Why Update Your Estate Plan?

An estate plan reflects your wishes for the distribution of your assets and the care of your loved ones. When going through a divorce, it’s crucial to review and update this plan because:

  • Your ex-spouse may still have rights over certain assets based on the terms of different estate planning documents;

  • The guardianship provisions for your minor children may need modification;

  • Your healthcare proxy or power of attorney might need to be changed to ensure that your wishes will be followed correctly if you encounter serious health issues; and,

  • New beneficiaries may need to be named by you for insurance policies or retirement accounts.

To ensure that these changes are made accurately, and according to both state laws and personal preferences, your attorney can provide guidance on how to address these topics during the divorce process.

Estate Planning Documents to Update During Your Divorce

The decisions you made when creating an estate plan likely reflected your relationship with your spouse, addressing how certain matters would be handled if one of you died or became incapacitated. Now that your marriage is ending, you likely will want to rethink these decisions,  and then you will need to consider what changes will need to be made to the documents you have put in place. You may need to make updates to:

  • Wills and trusts: Divorce can impact the validity of certain provisions within your will or any trusts that you have established. For example, if you named your former spouse as the executor of your will or the successor trustee of a trust, those designations may need to be updated. You may also need to revise your decisions about who will inherit certain property, or how assets in a trust will be distributed among different beneficiaries. If you have any specific bequests or gifts outlined in these documents that involve your ex-spouse, those likely should be revised;

  • Guardianship designations: If you have minor children, your will may detail how you want their guardianship to be handled in the event of your death. You may have made these guardianship designations based on agreements with your spouse, but those arrangements may no longer reflect your wishes, now that your marriage is ending. To make sure the correct guardian will be nominated for your children, you may need to update the terms of your will;

  • Powers of attorney: You may have put documents in place granting someone else the authority to make financial or healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself. Your choice of an agent to act on your behalf, or your wishes about how various medical and financial issues should be handled, may change following the end of your marriage, so you may need to obtain new powers of attorney to reflect your changed circumstances; and,

  • Beneficiary designations: If you have retirement accounts or life insurance policies, you may have named beneficiaries who will receive these assets after your death. If you named your spouse as a beneficiary, or if you wish to make adjustments to make sure your children or other loved ones will inherit your assets, you will need to update these beneficiary designations. Failure to do so could result in your assets being distributed in ways that do not reflect your actual wishes.

Contact Our Hillside Divorce and Estate Planning Attorney

Updating your estate plan during your divorce can be challenging, and it requires careful consideration of various legal and financial subjects. By working with an experienced divorce and estate planning attorney, you can make sure the necessary changes will be made while complying with the requirements of Illinois law. To learn how the Oak Park divorce lawyer at [[title]] can help you address these concerns, while also providing you with effective legal representation in family law matters, please contact our office today at [[phone]] and schedule a free consultation.


Read More