Coates & Davenport, P.C.

How can a divorce affect a Virginian's estate plan?

Some married couples in Virginia may have executed an estate plan together, never anticipating that one day their union may end. However, divorce is reality for many couples in the U.S. When a couple divorces, in addition to resolving their divorce legal issues, they may also want to review their estate plan, and revise it when necessary.

Of course, one of the first documents to review is your will or trust. Most people leave an inheritance to their spouse, and if their spouse's name is not removed from these documents following a divorce, it is possible that at least a portion of one's estate might go to their ex -- something many divorcees do not want to happen. In addition, when it comes to wills and trusts, a person might want to ensure their ex does not remain as the executor or trustee under these documents.

In addition, one document that is present in many well-rounded estate plans is a health care proxy. This document delineates who is to make health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Many people choose their spouse to fulfill this important role, so if they divorce, they may want to select a different person to fulfill this role rather than leaving the matter up to their ex. Similarly, if your ex is designated as your power of attorney, you may want to revoke that document and execute a new one designating a different trusted individual to fulfill this role.

Finally, a person should pay attention to who they have selected to be the beneficiary on their life insurance policies and retirement accounts. Oftentimes a person chooses their spouse to be a beneficiary on these types of accounts. So, should they divorce a person might want to remove their ex as a beneficiary and update the accounts with a new beneficiary.

These are only a few estate planning considerations to make following a divorce. Divorce can be a difficult time, but it is important to think clearly. An attorney can help people in such situations make decisions that are in their best interests, so they can ensure their estate plan still meets their wishes following their divorce.

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Coates & Davenport, P.C.
5206 Markel Road Suite 200
Richmond, VA 23230

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