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Should you update your estate plan after a divorce?

Going through a divorce is a significant life event that may cause emotional turmoil and stress. However, as you navigate this challenging time, remember that certain practical aspects need your attention too. One of these is your estate plan.

Once the divorce process begins, you should start thinking about updating your estate plan. This document, which may include your will, trusts, power of attorney and beneficiary designations, needs to reflect your new circumstances.

Why update your estate plan after a divorce?

If you leave your estate plan as it is, your ex-spouse may still be the beneficiary of your assets. Your ex-spouse might also have powers of attorney, allowing them to make financial or health decisions on your behalf. Updating your estate plan gives you control and ensures your assets go where you want them to.

What parts of your estate plan should you update?

There are several items in your estate plan that you should review.

  • Your will. You likely named your spouse as the primary beneficiary and executor. After your divorce, you may want to name a different person in both roles.
  • Trust agreements. If you have a revocable trust, you may change the terms, including the beneficiary. However, an irrevocable trust may not be as easy to amend.
  • Powers of attorney and healthcare proxy. These documents grant individuals the authority to make decisions on your behalf. You should ensure you trust these individuals in your post-divorce life.

Reviewing these documents can help you make necessary changes or get the help you need to make those changes.

How does Arkansas law impact your estate plan after divorce?

In Arkansas, your ex-spouse is automatically removed as the executor and beneficiary of your will after the divorce is final. However, this automatic change does not apply to trusts, life insurance policies or retirement accounts. You must manually update these documents.

Updating your estate plan after a divorce can give you some control during a difficult time. You will have the peace of mind of knowing your executor will handle your estate according to your current wishes.