One important thing often overlooked after divorce is revising beneficiary designations on payable upon death accounts you may have on retirement, brokerage, savings, checking or other accounts as well as the beneficiary designations in your Will or Trusts. If these aren’t updated, you could leave behind assets to your ex-spouse when you pass away. Updating assures that your assets will go to the right people.

Beneficiary Designation

It is likely that you have your spouse listed as your beneficiary for life insurance policies, investment accounts, IRAs, retirement plans, and the like. These are assets not controlled by a Will or Trust. To change the beneficiary designation, simply request the appropriate form and nominate a new beneficiary or beneficiaries.

If you have children, you might consider naming them as beneficiaries. If your child is a minor, you might consider naming a Trust as your beneficiary and then assigning your parent or sibling as trustee to hold the funds in trust for the minor until he reaches majority. This will also ensure that the trustee will be held liable in case of a misuse of the Trust assets. Consult with a lawyer versed in Wills, Estates and Trusts to have the proper papers drafted to reflect your wishes.

Will or Trust

Speaking of Trust, you should also update your existing Will or Trust. Not doing so risks leaving your assets to your ex-spouse. You will have to name a guardian for your minor children in your Will. Usually, the death of one parent would mean that the surviving parent becomes the sole guardian. But having a guardian in your Will would come in handy if your ex-spouse has also passed away, or if he/she becomes an unfit parent. Another point that might need to be revised is the person that is responsible for making your health care decisions in the event that you become unable to do so. Be sure to update or have drafted your Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will.

It is important not to wait too long to make these changes. Seeking the help of an experienced attorney to assist with estate planning will benefit and protect you in the long run.