Divorce Is a Time To Review Your Estate Plan

by Michael D. Larsen

It may seem obvious, but people often forget to update their wills, trusts, powers of attorney and advance health care directives when they get divorced. Under California law, some automatic safeguards are put in place when a petition for divorce is filed. There are rules about when and how you can change your will and trust, for example. Once the divorce is final, you need to take steps to change your documents. You probably want to remove your ex-spouse as a beneficiary of your estate, and you probably don’t want your “ex” being the trustee of your trust, the executor of your will or your attorney-in-fact under your power of attorney or your advance health care directive.

When you make these changes, don’t forget to look at your IRAs, 401ks and the like. These should be part of the negotiations during your divorce, but you need to be sure to follow up with the custodians of those plans. You may also need to sign deeds changing title to your real property.