Pennsylvania couples who are getting divorced sometimes overlook a key item on the separation to-do list: updating their estate plans. Spouses are often named as beneficiaries of life insurance policies and in wills. These documents should be updated to reflect that the couple is no longer together, and new beneficiaries should be named. There are some other estate planning issues to consider in connection with divorce.
Many spouses designate powers of attorney during the course of the marriage, potentially granting access to assets and accounts. In the event of divorce, any such powers of attorney should be revoked.
Wills and trusts should also be updated to remove the ex-spouse as a beneficiary or executor. As part of the process, an alternate guardian for children can be named; however, the other parent will likely still be the guardian.
In most states, it is not possible to completely disinherit an ex. Often, the best course is to leave the ex-spouse only what he or she would receive under state law. Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement should be reviewed once divorce becomes likely.
When the divorce is finalized, the whole estate plan should be reviewed anew. Planning during the divorce is a good idea, but plans often need to be tweaked or updated once the divorce is complete. In a case where a Pennsylvania couple is getting divorced, an attorney might be able to help. A lawyer with experience in estate planning may conduct a review of the plans in place and suggest revisions or updates. Legal counsel might redraft planning documents like wills and trusts or provide advice about splitting retirement accounts.