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Your estate planning needs change after divorce

Going through a divorce requires careful focus on settlement agreements, child custody arrangements and any related payments each person might owe. Once the somewhat lengthy process of ending a marriage is complete most people in Illinois are ready to sit back and take a rest from paperwork and planning, but this is shortsighted. Estate planning needs change along with major life events, such as marriage, the birth of a child and divorce.

It is important for individuals to update their wills after getting divorced. Exactly what changes are necessary will depend on each person and their relationship with their ex-spouse. For those making a clean break, completely removing their ex is usually the best idea. But what about parents who share custody with an ex? Leaving an ex in the will even if only to specify guardianship of a minor child is a usually a good idea.

Powers of attorney should also be reviewed and adjusted as needed. Most people choose their spouse to act as health care proxies should they become incapacitated, so divorcees need to decide if their ex can still make medical decisions on their behalf. What about durable powers of attorney over bank accounts and other financial assets? Even if a person maintains a civil relationship with their former spouse, leaving them with access to finances might not be a good idea.

Aside from updating wills and powers of attorney, Illinois individuals should also change the listed beneficiaries for life insurance policies, pensions and retirement accounts. However, estate planning can be complicated, and between wills, policies, trusts and powers of attorneys there is an endless number of items that must be attended to. In most cases, consulting with experienced legal counsel can help people ensure that they have completely updated their estate plan to reflect their current status in life.

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