Once your divorce is finalized it is understandable that the last thing you would want to do would be to meet with another attorney and incur additional expenses. However, to protect yourself and your loved ones, it is best to have your estate plan done as soon as possible after your divorce is finalized.
Why is an estate plan necessary after a divorce?
Married couples often list each other as beneficiaries of their retirement assets and life insurance policies and own property jointly. When the first spouse passes away, the majority of the assets will transfer automatically to the surviving spouse. When a couple divorces, property is transferred into individual names. Any property which is in an individual name becomes part of the individual's estate. The result is the estate having to go through the probate process before it can be distributed. Probate can be avoided by being proactive and doing proper planning.
My ex-spouse has no rights to my estate, correct?
Upon divorce your ex-spouse does not have a right to your estate. That said, if in your separation agreement you are required to have life insurance with your ex-spouse named as your beneficiary and you fail to do so, your ex-spouse can make a claim against your estate for an amount equal to the life insurance you are required to carry. Additionally, if you named your ex-spouse as a beneficiary of your retirement assets and/or life insurance and forget to change your beneficiary designations, your ex-spouse is entitled to receive the assets upon your passing.
In order to ensure your assets are distributed to who you want them to be distributed to, it is important you speak with an attorney.