How-to: Update Your Estate Plan After Divorce

There are many things you will need to change and update if you get a divorce. For one, your will and estate plan will surely look different after a divorce. While there will be a lot of things on your plate, you will not want to forget to update some very important documents. These include your will, living trust, power of attorney documents, and your beneficiary designations. Learn how to update your estate plan after divorce.

How-to: Update Your Estate Plan After Divorce- Changes to Make


If you want to update your will, the best way to do so is to make a new one and revoke your old one. You can revoke an old will by destroying it by means of shredding it or burning it. Another option would be to just make a new will and state in it that you are revoking your previous one. While divorce itself should divert any of your assets away from your ex, their portion will be given to another beneficiary. You should check into this, because the alternative beneficiary may not be who you want your assets to go to. The best thing to do is make a new, updated will based on your current wishes.

You can also state who you would like to take custody of your kids if both you and their other parent were to pass away. If you alone were to pass away, the other parent would likely get custody of your kids. If you want to contest this, you will need to indicate in your will the reasons that their other parent is not fit to raise them. This would at least be taken into consideration by a judge in the event of your death.

Living Trust

You should also update your trust as part of your estate planning after divorce… You will likely need to update some of the languages in your trust. Also, you will need to decide who you want each part of your trust to go to upon your death. Trust can cover things like bank accounts, IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, pensions, and more. By designating the trust to go to your minor children, you could prevent your ex from being able to control their assets.

Update Beneficiaries

It is likely that your ex is the beneficiary on most or all of your financial accounts. When you update your estate plan after divorce, you will want to consider changing this unless you still want your ex to get these accounts. If you have a new, updated trust, you can make the trust your beneficiary. This is especially helpful if your kids are minors. Otherwise, if you just directly put your minor children as a beneficiary, a court-appointed guardian will get it first. This court may choose your ex-spouse to be their guardian.

It is common for you to have to split your retirement accounts as part of a divorce. Usually, this is because they are marital property. Therefore, you may not be able to change who is the beneficiary on these accounts.