People in California marry for love, begin families and build futures together. Estate planning is frequently part of that process. While divorce is not the anticipated outcome when a couple marries, a significant percentage of marriages do end in divorce. In that event, an estate plan will need to be revised.
After a divorce, certain aspects of the plan need to be addressed and probably changed. If a spouse is the beneficiary or representative in the will, that may be a change one wishes to make. In addition, if the previous partner’s family is included in the will that may need to be looked at. One may not want an ex-spouse’s relative named as a guardian for minor children, for example.
Beneficiary assignments may also need to be updated. If a person divorces but neglects to change the name of a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, the named beneficiary may still inherit depending on the terms of the policy. Health care directives and powers of attorney should also be reviewed. A spouse is frequently the POA for health care decisions and a divorce does not automatically change that designation.
Unwinding a marriage and adjusting estate planning documents accordingly can be a complex process in California. There are a lot of details to be addressed and a knowledgeable family law attorney may be able to assist a client in reviewing the documents involved and making sure that details are not overlooked. Careful review of the documents and beneficiaries can help ensure that one’s final wishes are carried out as intended.