Estate Planning After Your Divorce: What You Need to Know

A lot goes into a divorce in New Mexico, including time, money, focus and emotions. Naturally, as this process goes on, you may find yourself just wanting to decompress for a bit. However, before you complete your journey through family law in Albuquerque, there are some life areas you may need to handle immediately after your divorce. One important but often-overlooked life area after a divorce is estate planning. 

Divorce Obligation Compliance in Your Case

It is possible that some obligations you received in your divorce will impact your estate planning, and it is vital that the attorney handling your estate plans knows what those obligations are. You may, for example, have to designate a specific asset to your ex-spouse–such as naming them as the beneficiary of a set amount of your life insurance proceeds–according to your divorce decree. Your divorce settlement may have also granted your ex-spouse part of your investment or retirement accounts or some sort of survivor benefit. You cannot make an estate plan that accurately reflects your wishes if the plan does not account for obligations set forth in your divorce. 

How Your Estate Will Work

Your estate planning attorney will work with you so you know how your divorce and tax obligations and your debts and assets will be handled when you pass away. For example, some assets can pass directly to the person you intend to have them, while others may pass via your will or other estate proceedings in court. Your debts will need to be paid and tax returns must be prepared and filed. Any obligations set forth in your divorce that have a bearing on your estate will need to be addressed as well. 

Persons who pass away without a will are subject to the New Mexico Intestacy Laws. This can create a massive headache for your surviving family and could very easily result in persons you hadn’t intended receiving portions, or all, of your estate.

Ultimately, you need to understand your estate so you can devise a plan that meets your obligations and spells out exactly what happens when you pass. This will help you avoid leaving your loved ones with a mess on their hands, and it is also the best way to ensure your final wishes are honored.

New or Revised Will Creation

One common mistake people make after divorce is not updating existing estate planning documents. Chances are that if you already have a will now, it leaves everything or nearly everything to your ex-spouse. You should get a new will written up that accurately reflects your life as it is now and where you’d like your money to go. This way, there is no confusion over what you wanted to happen in the event of your death.

An important area that is often overlooked is the naming of guardians for any minor children you may have. Something could happen to both you and your (ex) spouse, it therefore wise to have a plan in place for your children in the event of such a tragedy.

New Advanced Health Care Directive

An advanced health directive allows you to name someone who can make medical decisions for you should you become incapacitated. If you already have one of these documents, it likely names your (ex) spouse, or possibly a former family member, so you will want to create a new one and grant that authority to another trusted friend or family member. If you have an advanced directive on file with any health care provider, it is important they are provided with the updated documents.

Every situation is unique, so you may need to obtain other documents or take additional estate planning steps after your divorce. Be sure to give your attorney all of the information they need to have an accurate picture of your estate planning needs and your obligations from your divorce.