Don’t forget to make the necessary revisions to your estate plan
Getting a divorce can be a complicated and emotionally draining process, involving many changes to your life and to the plans you’ve made for the future. Your Last Will and Testament and other estate planning documents may not be on your mind during this difficult time, but you cannot afford to neglect them. As you get through the divorce process, it’s important that you make the appropriate modifications to your will, trust, and other estate planning documents.
Revisions to the Will
Under Ohio law, once you divorce your spouse, the spouse will no longer be able to inherit from you or serve as the executor of your will (unless there’s an explicit provision stating that his or her position as beneficiary or executor should not be revoked). However, you will still need to carefully look over your will. If, for instance, you never named any other beneficiaries or alternatives as executors, you will need to do so for your will to be valid. (Even if you never get a divorce, it’s important that you name other beneficiaries and alternative executors, in the event that your spouse passes away before you do.)
Power of Attorney
Again, you’ll need alternatives to act as your attorney-in-fact for your Powers of Attorney other than your spouse. Be sure that you grant power of attorney to individuals you would trust with important medical and financial decisions in the event that you become mentally or physically incapacitated.
Guardianship of Minors
Unless he or she has been deemed unfit by the court, your spouse will get custody of your children if you were to pass away. However, it is wise to name alternative guardians in your will. If you feel that your spouse may not be a good parent, you can suggest another guardian, and if the court ever decides that your spouse is unfit, the individual named in your will may be considered.
Another scenario you should consider is that both you and your spouse may pass away simultaneously when your children are still minors. As such, you and your spouse should agree to work together for the best interests of your children, and name the same individuals as alternative guardians in your separate wills to eliminate confusion about who should serve as successor guardian(s) for your children.
Retirement Accounts and Life Insurance Policies
Carefully review any trusts you have established with your former spouse, along with any life insurance policies, 401(k)s, and other retirement and savings accounts. You may have to revise these policies/accounts to reflect the changes in your marital status and name new beneficiaries.
Bill Hesch is a CPA, PFS (Personal Financial Specialist), and an attorney licensed in Ohio and Kentucky who helps clients with their financial and estate planning. He also practices elder law planning, corporate law, Medicaid planning, tax law, and probate in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas. His practice area includes Hamilton County, Butler County, Warren County, and Clermont County in Ohio, and Campbell County, Kenton County, and Boone County in Kentucky. Bill will be happy to review your current estate plan and can give you the peace of mind that you and your childrens’ financial well-being will be taken care of in case of a separation or divorce.