Going through a divorce is tough for everyone. Even if your divorce is amicable, the process itself can be difficult, as can the realization that your life is going to be very different from now on. As part of this process, anyone getting a divorce in New York needs to take the time to address estate planning concerns. This is especially important if you have created an estate plan that assumes you are a married person. But even if you haven’t created an estate plan, using your divorce as a reason to begin the process can be a great benefit. Here are several estate planning topics you will want to pay attention to as you go through your divorce.
Post-Divorce Estate Plans
If you created an estate plan while you were married, you’ve likely included your spouse as someone who stood to receive an inheritance upon your death. The legal reality is that every state gives spouses automatic inheritance rights. Though spouses can choose to waive these rights, your estate plan likely assumed your spouse would have the right to inherit at least some of your property.
But all that changes when you get a divorce. Ex-spouses don’t have the right to inherit from one another. If you made an estate plan you will need to update your inheritance choices to reflect your new marital situation. Forgetting to do this and leaving your spouse as someone who would receive an inheritance after you die can be a serious mistake.
Another fiduciary people choose when they create an estate plan is the health care agent or health care proxy. Should you become incapacitated, your health care agent can speak to your doctors and make medical choices for you.
The vast majority of married people choose their spouses to act as this agent. As with your executor, you are free to allow your former spouse to act as your agent after you get divorced. However, many people don’t want an ex-spouse to act in this role. If you want someone else to act as your agent, you will need to update your medical directives.