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Fresh start, fresh plans: Why you need to update your estate plan after divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2024 | Elder Law

Divorce is a life-altering event, bringing emotional and financial changes. While navigating the legalities of separation, it’s easy to overlook the impact on your estate plan. Here in Washington, where community property laws come into play, revising your estate planning documents after divorce is crucial to ensure your wishes are accurately reflected in your new reality.

Why your old estate plan might not reflect your new life

Your pre-divorce estate plan was likely drafted with the expectation that your spouse would inherit certain assets. After a divorce settlement, those assumptions are no longer valid. Here’s how a divorce can impact your estate plan:

  • Beneficiary designations: Your ex-spouse may have been named as the beneficiary on your life insurance policy, retirement accounts or even the primary beneficiary in your will. These designations need to be updated to reflect your current wishes.
  • Guardianship for minor children: If you have minor children, your ex-spouse might have been designated as their guardian in the event of your passing. Your current custody agreement should be factored into this aspect of your estate plan.
  • Asset distribution: The division of property during your divorce settlement may not be aligned with your original estate plan. Updating your plan ensures your assets are distributed according to your current desires.

Your estate plan is part of your legacy. Keeping it updated means it will continue to reflect what you intend for your loved ones.

Taking control of your legacy

Updating your estate plan after divorce is essential in taking control of your future. Here’s what you can do:

  • Schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney: An experienced attorney can review your existing estate plan, understand your current wishes and guide you through the revision process.
  • Review and update beneficiary designations: Ensure all your financial accounts and insurance policies reflect your post-divorce beneficiaries.
  • Consider a new will or trust: Depending on the complexity of your situation, creating a new will or trust document that reflects your current marital status and asset distribution might be necessary.

Washington is a community property state, meaning assets and debts acquired during the marriage are generally considered jointly owned. Understanding how this applies to your specific situation is crucial. An attorney can advise you on the legal nuances of estate planning after divorce in Washington.

Peace of mind for your future

Divorce is a challenging experience, but by updating your estate plan, you can ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are taken care of in the future. Don’t let an outdated plan create confusion or unintended consequences. Seek legal guidance and take control of your legacy after divorce.