Hi there, my name is Bridget Mackay. I’m an attorney in Petaluma, California, and I work in the area of estate planning, trust administrations, probate, and elder law.
I want to talk about making sure your ex-husband or your ex-wife is out of your life. Unfortunately, divorce is more common these days, but what’s not so common is for divorced spouses to fail to make sure their ex is out of their financial future after their divorce. Here are some documents you must check after you divorce or even sometimes when you file for separation. The first is check your retirement IRA, 401K type beneficiary designations. They may have been subject to part of the divorce, but once the divorce is final and everybody knows who’s getting what, make sure your beneficiary designations no longer reflect your ex-spouse.
The second is life insurance beneficiary designations. You may have purchased that life insurance a long time ago, and it’s worth it to pull it out, dust it off, and find out who your beneficiaries are and I think you might be surprised. If you have an ex-spouse kept on your life insurance policy while your children are minors, which I know often happens, set a calendar date reminding you to change that beneficiary designation when your child turns 18.
The third thing you need to check are trusts. Do an amendment or a new trust because ex-spouses aren’t automatically removed from trusts just because a divorce is final. They don’t, by some mechanism of law, all of a sudden come off trusts. That may be true for wills but not for trusts. So, if you had a trust with your ex-spouse, you need to look into a new type of estate plan.
Number four, durable powers of attorney. Again, much like the trust, if your ex-spouse is still designated as your agent and something happens to you, even though you’re divorced, it won’t matter. The document follows who you’ve named no matter what the level of relationship is.
Number five, health care directives. I’m pretty sure you, well maybe not, you may have an amicable divorce, but most people don’t wanna have their ex-husband or ex-wife making the determination of pulling the plug on you, so check your health care directives. Those are easy things to change, and get a new one with new designations. Those are really five important things you want to do once you’ve divorced.
(Besides Petaluma, Bridget services clients throughout the North Bay including Novato, San Rafeal and Santa Rosa.)