Estate plans and divorce

People in South Carolina should make sure that they review their estate plans every few years. They should also reexamine their plans if they experience a significant life event, such as a divorce.

While amending the contents of a will is important in cases in which individuals want to make sure that an ex-spouse will not be given any assets from an estate, it is not enough. Those who get a divorce may desire to remove beneficiary designations in their estate plans that indicate ex-spouses. This is particularly important for life insurance policies on which an ex-spouse may be named. It may also be necessary to remove the names of the ex-spouses who have been designated as personal representatives or guardians of minor children.

Powers of attorney and health care representative forms should also be reviewed. Typically, when married individuals are suffering from some medical issues, medical professionals may first look to the spouse for life and death decisions. Single individuals will want to make sure that they have designated someone they trust to handle any decisions regarding their health if they become unable to do so on their own in the future.

When making changes to an estate plan, divorced individuals should take into account what is included in their dissolution decree. The contents of the legal document may specify how life insurance is to be handled and what should happen to the title of the home.

An estate planning attorney might factor in the assets and goals of a client before recommending certain types of legal documents to include in an estate plan. The lawyer could also help draft certain types of wills and trusts. Clients may be advised of the importance of powers of attorney.