There are a lot of unfortunate side effects to a divorce. You may worry about seeing and spending time with your kids. Your retirement account could end up much smaller than what you'd hoped by this point in your life. You may even need to find a new place to live. Chances are good that you're already working to address these issues. It's also likely that you could overlook other important concerns and considerations in the process of your divorce.
One of the most critical things you need to address when divorcing is your last will or estate plan. Depending on how contentious your divorce looks to be, you may want to make changes as soon as you file for divorce. In other cases, it may make more sense to wait until the courts finalize the divorce. Regardless of which approach you take, the sooner you handle your estate plan and last will, the better your overall peace of mind about the future.
Estate plans shouldn't be set in stone
Many people think of estate plans or last wills as a one-time effort. In reality, you should review your estate plan or last will every few years. You should also make a point of updating it as soon as your financial or family situation changes. The older and less accurate your instructions, the easier it could become for someone to challenge your wishes in probate court.
You should also contact your life insurance and short-term or long-term disability provider to adjust your beneficiaries and even your coverage level to reflect your new marital status.
Divorce changes what you need from a last will or estate plan
Updating your estate plan to reflect the fact that your spouse is no longer the primary heir is a critical step often overlooked in the stress of divorce. While you hope that your divorce will be a fresh start to a long and happier next chapter in your life, there's no way to predict the future. Accidents and sudden medical events could leave you incapacitated or dead. You don't want control over your assets and estate to fall to your ex.
If you die with an incredibly outdated will, your assets are almost as at risk as if you didn't have a will at all. In general, a spouse will inherit your property if you die without a will in Delaware. Putting that in writing spares your spouse the potential frustration of probate court. Now that you're divorcing, however, you need to change your heirs and beneficiaries to ensure the people you love, including siblings, children and other family receive your assets instead of your ex.
In cases involving minor children, you may also need to update information about legal guardians in the event of your death. Naming someone you trust could protect your children from an uncertain future. Regardless of whether you have children or not, if you're going through a divorce, it's time to start thinking about updating your last will and estate plan to reflect your new wishes.