Estate Planning Updates After Divorce: What Steps Should I Take?

Estate Planning Updates After Divorce: What Steps Should I Take?

By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC

When you are in the process of getting divorced in the Chicago area, you are likely focused on immediately relevant issues, such as the division of marital assets and liabilities, and issues pertaining to parental responsibilities. It is often difficult to think through all the steps you will need to take after your divorce is finalized as a result of a dissolution of marriage.

One important area of the law you do need to consider after your divorce is finalized is estate planning, or trusts and estates law. Whether you have previously worked on estate planning documents or have no idea what estate planning involves, it is essential to make certain estate planning updates after your divorce.

Estate planning is an area of the law in which you make various decisions about what will happen to assets after your death – as well as decisions about how you want your healthcare to be managed in the event you are unable to make those kinds of decisions for yourself. Since most estate planning decisions for married couples involve both spouses, after a divorce is finalized, it is necessary to reconsider various issues pertaining to trusts and estates in Illinois. The following are some steps you should take after your divorce.

Revisit Your Will

The Illinois Probate Act governs most legal issues related to wills in Illinois. If you have a will created during your marriage, chances are good you have left most if not all of your property to your spouse. Simply getting divorced does not result in any automatic changes to your will that you will almost certainly want; you will need to make revisions to your directives after your death.

Consider Beneficiaries Listed on Your Accounts and Insurance Policies 

In the event of your death, your retirement accounts and insurance policies have beneficiaries listed. Most married couples will list their spouse as the beneficiary. For most recently divorced spouses, it is important to change the beneficiary from your ex to an adult child or another family member. Although there are some protections, if you were to unexpectedly die and did not make this change, your ex-spouse could be entitled to funds in your accounts.

Change Your Advance Directives

Advance directives are various documents allowing other people to make financial and health decisions for you in the event of your incapacitation. For example, a power of attorney for property allows another person to make decisions on your behalf about property – if you become unable to do so, while a power of attorney for healthcare allows another individual to make decisions about your medical treatment – if you become incapacitated. Most married couples will give a spouse power of attorney. After your divorce, you will likely want to update these documents to name someone new to make these kinds of decisions.

Contact a Chicago Divorce Lawyer for Assistance

Going through the legal issues in a divorce case can feel complicated, and we know you might not want to think about estate planning immediately after your divorce is finalized. However, failing to reconsider estate planning issues can have serious consequences. One of the experienced Chicago area divorce attorneys at our firm can speak with you today about your situation and some of the specific estate planning issues you should revisit. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC to learn more about how our lawyers can help you with estate planning updates after your divorce.