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Lombard estate planning attorneysThere are many reasons and situations that require an update to your estate plan. Divorce is one of the most common and potentially catastrophic situations. Unfortunately, it is also easy to overlook or forget. There are many loose ends to tie up once the divorce process is complete, and with more to manage, estate planning can easily slip through the cracks. Unfortunately, if something does happen to you before you have made changes to your estate plan, assets may not go to the people and places you had hoped. Do not let this happen to you. Learn what and when you should update in an estate plan after divorce.

Changing Your Beneficiaries

If you have a 401K, IRA, or other retirement plan, the beneficiary listed on your policy should be checked upon completion of the divorce. Of course, you may have to split some of your savings with your former spouse, but the remaining amount should go to you. If you do not want the remainder to go to your ex upon your passing, and he or she is listed as the current beneficiary, it is important that you change this in your policy. Alternatively, if you wish your spouse to be listed as a trustee for your children, ensure the policy and your other estate planning documents reflect this wish.

Updating Your Powers of Attorney

If you are like most people, you probably have your spouse listed as your power of attorney (the person that acts and makes decisions for you in the event of incapacitation). Now, it is possible to keep your spouse as your power of attorney, but few divorces end quite that amicably. Instead, you might want to consider naming a close friend, a sibling, a parent, or an adult child. Make sure they are someone you can trust to carry out your wishes.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen you get divorced, virtually your entire life is affected. Your relationship with your children changes, your living arrangements are different, and even your outlook on the future is likely to evolve. A divorce can also have a dramatic impact on the viability and the appropriateness of your existing estate plan. If you have recently gone through a divorce, it is a good idea to sit down with your lawyer and go over the details of your will, trusts, and any other estate planning tools you have in place.

Changes in What You Own

One of the most important reasons to update your estate plan after a divorce is the potential change to the property that comprises your estate. According to Illinois law, marital property must be divided equitably between divorcing spouses, which means that you probably own less now that you did when you were married. If your estate plan only makes general references to the property in your estate, the existing terms may be sufficient. Many estate plans, however, contain provisions for specific items or assets such as a particular vehicle or the family home. In the wake of your divorce, you may no longer own these assets, thus making an update necessary.

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Lombard estate planning lawyerDo you have a written plan for what will happen to your assets and debts upon your death? Is there a documented contingency plan in place for your children in the event that something happens to you? If the answer is yes to either or both of these questions, you have made excellent decisions in being prepared for the unexpected. If the answer is no, it is time to start looking ahead. For those that do have an estate plan in place, it is very important to revisit it from time to time, checking to make sure that the terms of your plan continue to be applicable to your current state of affairs. Estate planning is not a “one-and-done” type of affair; it is an ongoing process that you must continue to address to a certain extent for the rest of your life.

More Assets and Wealth

Assuming that you are still of working age, you will likely continue to accumulate wealth each year. You may set additional savings aside for retirement, or you may invest what you are earning in the hopes of a substantial return. As your wealth and net worth grows, you may wish to amend your estate plan to properly account for your added assets. There may be new tools or tax advantages available to you now with your additional wealth that were not available at the time your estate plan was created.

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