Couple divorcing with attorney

Updating Your Estate Plan After a Divorce

By Joshua Berkley

After getting married, many couples create an estate plan together. However, it is just as important to update one’s estate plan after a divorce as it is to create one in the first place. To put it simply: the failure to update an estate plan after a divorce can have unintended—and expensive—consequences. In this article, we discuss how to update your estate plan after a divorce. 

Last Will and Testament

Assuming you no longer want to leave everything to your ex-spouse, the first thing you should do following a divorce is remove him or her from your will. In fact, you may be able to seek permission to remove your ex from your will without waiting for the divorce to be finalized. It is common following a divorce for each spouse to replace the other in their respective wills with someone else, such as their children. Although some states, including Kentucky, have laws that automatically treat an ex-spouse as having predeceased under the provisions of a will following a divorce, it’s still advisable to remove your ex from your will just to be safe.  You’ll often want to change other provisions in your will at this time including who you direct to be appointed as your Executor to manage the affairs of your estate. 

Other Accounts

Besides your will, you should update your beneficiaries on other accounts and documents following a divorce, such as retirement accounts, life insurance policies, or pay/transfer-on-death accounts. Although some state laws may remove an ex-spouse from these beneficiary designations, you shouldn’t rely on such laws to update your estate plan for you. Rather, like your last will and testament, you should work with an estate planning attorney to proactively update your accounts following a divorce.   

In addition, you should also designate a new healthcare surrogate, personal representative, and attorney-in-fact for financial matters if your current agent is your ex-spouse.

Minor Children

Finally, if you have minor children, you should name a guardian to care for them should you pass away prematurely. In most cases, guardianship of your children will not be assigned to a third party unless both you and your spouse are deceased or deemed legally unfit to parent. Nonetheless, in the event your ex-spouse predeceases you, you will want to be certain your preference for your children’s guardian is in place. 

Contact Our Shelby County Estate Planning Attorney 

At Berkley Oliver PLLC, our knowledgeable estate planning lawyers provide comprehensive estate planning services throughout Central Kentucky. Whether you need to create, update, or take some other action related to an estate plan, our lawyers have the experience and knowledge necessary to provide you with service you can depend on. When you come to us for assistance with your estate planning needs, you can rely on us to provide you with efficient representation and exceptional service. Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

About the Author
Josh Berkley is an attorney and owner at Berkley Oliver PLLC who helps individuals implement plans to protect their assets and their loved ones. Josh focuses his practice in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law.  From assisting young parents in making a plan to provide for their children, to helping senior clients qualify for Medicaid, Josh works with clients to create estate plans and life plans tailored to each person’s specific goals. He also helps clients with a wide variety of important legal documents such Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designations, and Living Wills. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Josh here.