When you are in the midst of a divorce, your estate planning documents may not be the first thing on your mind. However, once the Divorce Decree is signed, you will want to make sure you have taken steps to update your documents to reflect your new status and to meet your new goals.
- Update your Will to include new dispositive provisions. In Texas, once a divorce is final, your spouse and their relatives may not take under your Will. However, relying on this default revocation may not always reflect your intentions as to the disposition of your assets.
- Update your Will to include new fiduciary appointments. Again, the legislature has provided a default revocation for any appointment of your spouse or their relatives. However, simply allowing the revocation to stand may not ensure that the people you want to serve as Executor and Trustee under your Will are appointed.
- Update your beneficiary designations on life insurance, retirement accounts and any other non-probate assets.
- Create or update trusts for your children.
- Update your guardianship documents for your minor children. If you die and your ex is alive, then he will naturally be the legal guardian (absent termination of parental rights). If you die last or your ex dies without having designated any guardians, you will want to make sure that you have properly designated guardians to care for your minor children until they reach the age of majority.
- Update your documents to include any agreements that may have been reached in your Divorce Decree (e.g. is there an award of alimony payments or an award for child expenses that will survive your death).
- Retitle all assets consistent with your Divorce Decree (e.g. change bank accounts, execute new deeds for your home, rental properties, update business documents that are affected by the divorce, etc.)
- Plan for remarriage. Consider a pre-nuptial agreement to protect your assets from divorce in a subsequent marriage.