If you are going through a divorce in New Jersey, you are likely dealing with a lot of difficult decisions, as well as paperwork. In the midst of making decisions about asset division, responsibility for debts and parenting time, it’s easy to overlook the importance of updating your estate plan. Not doing so can cause significant hardship for your family members, particularly if you remarry.
Changing your will
Married people typically name their spouses as beneficiaries in their wills. It is also common for spouses to name each other as executors of their respective estates. If you have done either, you will likely want to change your will as soon as possible after you decide to divorce.
Other changes that you might want to make in your will may include:
- Changing bequests to your spouse’s family members: If your will named members of your spouse’s family (such as stepchildren) as beneficiaries, you may want to change the bequest or remove these individuals entirely from your will
- Modifying guardianship of your children: If you and your spouse have minor children, you may want to name a different guardian for them if both you and your ex-spouse die.
- Adapting the will to reflect post-divorce finances: Items such as real estate and other valuable property might be designated in your will. Ownership of these items might change as part of your divorce property settlement.
Other estate planning updates
Not all assets are passed on to others through a will. Retirement plans, life insurance policies and trusts are outside the scope of a will. You’ll have to change your beneficiaries for all of these estate planning tools individually at or around the time of your divorce.
You don’t want your assets to pass on to an ex-spouse or their relatives after you die because you failed to upstate your estate plan. Reviewing and updating your estate plan during and after your divorce helps protect your family and ensures that your wishes are respected after you die.