At the conclusion of a divorce proceeding, both parties are sick of the legal system, lawyers and legal fees. This is understandable. None the less, it is important to address a change in your estate planning documents immediately after the divorce is final.
During your marriage – you had joint ownership of many assets which has now been dissolved. You named one another as the Personal Representative of your estate upon your death, the agent under your Durable Power of Attorney and the Patient Advocate under your Designation of Patient Advocate (Medical Power of Attorney).
Do you really still want your ex-spouse to serve in these capacities?
It is time to select new agents for each of these estate planning documents. You will want your health care and finances to be controlled by someone else in the event of your incapacity.
For individuals with minor children, there are post-divorce estate planning concerns as well. You cannot name a third party as the guardian of your child upon your death instead of the remaining parent. Your ex-spouse will have the first opportunity to raise your child(ren) if you die prior to their 18th birthday unless he/she is unavailable, doesn’t chose to do it, or is totally unsuitable due to prior abuse or serious criminal activity.
You can, however, name a conservator for your children. This individual would be responsible for the money you leave for the care of these children. Unless you would like your ex-spouse to control the money, it is important to name someone who would be willing to assume this duty and would do it honestly and carefully.
During your divorce, you became independent and you negotiated for your fair share. It is important that you assure that your fair share is passed on to those you choose.Linda E. Wasielewski is a solo practice lawyer located in Traverse City focusing upon Estate Planning and Probate Law, providing legal services in Northern Michigan
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