How to Change Your Will & Living Trust After Divorce in Albuquerque

A divorce is often a long process filled with paperwork, time-consuming meetings, and lots of talk about assets. Once you’re finally finished with the process, it feels like a weight has been lifted and you look forward to never worrying about legal paperwork connected to your ex again. However, before you get too excited to have your divorce finalized, there’s one more thing you need to do on your own: change and update your will or living trust. Chances are that you included your former spouse in much of your estate planning, and it’s time to take them off – let us tell you how.

Will vs. Living Trust: What’s the Difference?

Before we discuss how to change your estate planning documents, let’s first talk about what they are, their benefits, and how they affect you.

First, a will is defined as a written declaration where a person names one or more people to manage their estate and provides for the distribution of their property upon their death. While “estate” may sound like something only the wealthy have to worry about, this the word used to describe any assets you have when you pass, including your vehicles, any collectibles, cash or any property you own–no matter how small. Your will is the document that details what you want to happen to those things after you’re gone and who you want to be in charge of making sure that happens.

On the other hand, while a living trust similarly allows you to distribute your assets to others, it takes effect while you’re still alive. This type of estate matter typically transfers your property into your trust before your passing so you can control everything and make changes on your own behalf. Your assets are still given to people after your death in the same style as a will, but with a living trust, this process isn’t typically subject to the New Mexico probate process.

The basic difference between the two is that the will is the simple directive stating who gets what, while your living trust discusses more of the smaller details, can give protection over certain assets, gives you more control over the process, and can take effect before your death, like if you were suddenly disabled or otherwise incapacitated. There are many different forms of trusts. You can have both a trust and will in your estate plan.

Changing You Will & Living Trust After Divorce

Now that we know what each document is and their purpose, it’s easy to see why you would want these to be changed after your divorce. During your marriage, you were likely content leaving most of your property and assets to your partner. However, with your separation, it’s not likely that you’ll want to leave the same amount, if any at all to your partner. One of the few exceptions comes if you have children. For example, if you currently have primary custody of your children resulting from this marriage, you’ll probably want to ensure your children are taken care of in the event of your death.

When Should You Make the Change?

As tempting as it may be to immediately change your paperwork, it’s important to remember that anything can happen. It is extremely important to nominate a person you trust to be the “executor” of your estate, or the person who will be in charge of distributing your assets. If it was your spouse, consider taking some time to find a substitute and discuss with them what this new role or these assets would mean to them. It’s also especially important to give yourself time to change these documents if you share children with your former partner.

How to Change These Estate Documents

Before changing or updating any estate planning paperwork, you should know how much you want to leave to your family or persons you’ve nominated as beneficiaries. You should additionally know who your new Power of Attorney will be for both financial and medical situations. Once you have this or if you need help deciding, you can go to your Albuquerque family lawyer to start the process. With an experienced lawyer, you’ll have someone who can walk you through each step and give you the information you need to properly update everything and remove your former spouse as needed.

Whether you’ve been considering changing your will and/or living trust for a while or you just started looking into the subject, know that our Albuquerque divorce attorneys and family lawyers are here to help you make the most of these confusing legal processes. Our team has the experience and supportive approach necessary to help you find the best legal solution so you can move forward. Contact the Law Office or Dorene A. Kuffer and we’ll help you restart your estate planning to match your new life.