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Should you update your estate plan after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2023 | Estate Planning

The phenomenon of grey divorce, or divorce among older couples, has seen a significant uptick in recent years. As of 2019, around a quarter of all divorces involved individuals over 65, reports AARP.

Older people going through divorce often have more intricate estate plans, and updating those plans after a major life event is necessary.

Choosing new beneficiaries

Beneficiaries specified in your will or on your insurance policies likely need an update after your divorce. Former spouses often remain the named beneficiary on these accounts by oversight, a situation you may want to rectify.

Review all your accounts, including retirement funds, life insurance policies and any trust arrangements. Make sure to update them to include your new choices. Many divorced people name their adult children, other relatives or charitable organizations as beneficiaries.

Changing advanced directives

Advanced directives articulate your preferences regarding healthcare decisions and end-of-life proceedings. Many people name their spouses to serve as proxies and agents in the event of incapacitation. After your divorce, you can assign a new healthcare proxy and update your living will to reflect your current situation. Think carefully about who in your life would best honor your choices and act in your best interest when you cannot.

Adjusting your executor

An executor manages your estate, settles your debts and distributes assets according to your will. During your marriage, your spouse might have been the person you designated to execute your estate plan. However, in most cases, it is advisable to select someone else for this important role after you divorce.

A good executor is someone you know to be reliable, organized and trustworthy. When choosing a new executor, make sure that you discuss your intentions and communicate your goals in estate planning beforehand.

A divorce changes many aspects of life, and your estate plan should keep pace with these shifts.