If you died after your divorce was final, your ex wouldn’t inherit, would they? While, North Carolina has taken some steps to limit a divorced spouse’s claim on your property, you still need to take action to ensure your ex doesn’t inherit. For example, if you don’t update your will after a divorce, the probate code invalidates certain parts of it.
You should begin updating your will or estate plan as soon as you and your spouse separate. If you don’t have a plan, you need to create one. Also, you need to update the beneficiaries for any life insurance, annuities, 401(k) plans or 403(b) plans you have. Let’s take a look…
Three Good Reasons to Start Now
- As we mentioned above, parts of your estate plan are invalid after a divorce. That means your plan may not work as you expect. Everyone needs an estate plan that protects them if they become disabled and that passes their property to the people they choose. That includes a will, a power of attorney for finance, a healthcare power of attorney, and/or a living will. These all need to be up-to-date to work as expected.
- The second reason to act now is to ensure your children (or others you choose) are the beneficiaries of your life insurance policy, annuity, 401(k) plan or 403(b) plan, or other accounts that pay directly to someone else upon your death. If your spouse is listed as the beneficiary, they could still inherit. Most people have some of these accounts through work, and you don’t need a lawyer to change your beneficiaries. Be aware, however, that you may be ordered to maintain your ex as a beneficiary as part of your divorce settlement. If you are, you must continue to do so.
- The third reason to handle this now is that it is more convenient to update you estate plan now while documents are collected, rather than putting it off. A lot of people worry about the expense of an estate plan when they’re already paying for a divorce. But right now, you have all the documents collected and you’ve been thinking about the issues. If you put it off, you will have to go to the trouble of collecting the materials again. Meanwhile, you would go unprotected.
Work with an Attorney to Update Each Aspect
While not all North Carolina divorce attorneys practice estate planning, select one who does to help with any necessary modifications at each stage:
- Update your will to reflect your updated preferences.
- Compose a fresh healthcare directive and power of attorney
- Modify the financial accounts’ beneficiaries
Be sure to work with an attorney who will put your family first and go the extra mile to provide the legal services you really need. Make an appointment for a consultation with our experienced, knowledgeable divorce and estate planning legal team who will ensure your family is fully protected. Together, we can keep you protected while avoiding unnecessary hassle and expense.