Should I Change My Estate Plan After a Divorce?

The Importance Of Updating Your Estate Plan Every Now & Then In Arizona

Our Arizona Family Attorneys look at divorce and changing your estate plan in an Arizona Family Law case. There are changes that can and should be made to an estate plan when going through a divorce in Arizona.

Everyone (who is a legal adult) can benefit from having an estate plan, so it’s wise to make one well before you reach old age or develop a serious medical condition. But for the most part, you aren’t bound for life to your estate plan once created. As you age, your estate plan, including your will, advanced health care directives, powers of attorney, and more, may need a tune up. You may also want to review your estate plan after getting married or introducing a new member into your family. And if you have gotten divorced, it’s likely that you should make some updates to your estate plan. Read on to learn more, and call 480-833-8000 to schedule your free consultation if you have additional questions about updating your Arizona estate plan after a divorce.

The Importance Of Updating Your Estate Plan Every Now & Then In Arizona

Amend Your Will, Or Create An Entirely New One

Most people list their spouses in their wills, and therefore need to update their wills after getting divorced. Your last will and testament is an important estate planning document, and it usually serves as the basis for the rest of your estate plan. It is used to transfer assets to your beneficiaries upon your death, assign an executor to your estate, and also designate who should be your children’s legal guardian if you pass away before they reach adulthood. So depending on how your will is structured, you may be able to get away with only minor adjustments to your will after a divorce, or you may have to create an entirely new one.

If you are looking to make adjustments to your last will and testament after a divorce, you will need to create a codicil. A codicil is a written legal document that can be used to make changes to a will or other estate planning document. Your codicil must have your signature as well as that of one witness, or a notary public. But a codicil will only work if your spouse’s role in your will is limited. If your spouse is set to receive most of your assets, or serve as your estate’s executor or children’s legal guardian through your will, it will probably be easier to start over with a new will.

If you want to start over with a new will, you will need to revoke your previous will first. This can be done in a number of ways. You can simply destroy your original will; burning, shredding, tearing, even feeding it to the dog will all work. You can also simply create a new will that doesn’t name your former spouse as a beneficiary or any other role. If you want to make things especially clear, you can state in your new will that this one is meant to revoke and replace a previous will.

Update Your Power Of Attorney In Arizona

Another role spouses often assign to each other in their estate plans is powers of attorney. Plus, a power of attorney gives one person the authority to make crucial decisions for the grantor if they ever become mentally incapacitated. There are a few different types of powers of attorney in Arizona: general, special, and health care.

A general durable power of attorney is meant to give the agent a broad range of authority. These include business and financial decisions, like paying taxes, managing rental properties, giving gifts, and more. With all of this control over your life, you’ll probably want to change your general power of attorney if it is currently your former spouse. A general durable power of attorney can be revoked at any time that the creator is of sound mind. To make sure your revocation is completed correctly, call our Arizona estate planning team at 480-833-8000.

While a general power of attorney is broad in the range of authority it provides, a special power of attorney is much narrower in scope. It is most often used for one time transactions, such as completing a home sale while the testator is out of the country. If you have a special power of attorney that names your former spouse and could still be activated, you should revoke it and replace your ex if necessary.

Another type of Arizona power of attorney that might have your spouse’s name on it is a health care and mental health power of attorney. This type of power of attorney is used to give someone the authority to make decisions about your medical treatments if you ever lose the legal capacity to do so for yourself. Advanced health care directives, or living wills, allow you to predetermine these types of decisions for yourself. So if you don’t have someone to replace your ex spouse on your health care power of attorney, consider revoking it and using an advanced health care directive instead.

Review & Update Your Trusts

Trusts can be a great way to distribute your estate amongst your loved ones. Trusts are quite beneficial. They can help your estate avoid taxes and additional costs. They aren’t subject to disputes and other delays due to the probate process. Furthermore, they also protect the privacy of everyone involved. But based on the type of trusts you have created, you might not be able to remove your spouse as a beneficiary. You may also be restricted in which actions you can take based on your divorce orders.

When determining if you can remove your ex spouse from a trust, you will need to determine whether it is revocable or irrevocable. Thus, when a trust is revocable, it can be changed or canceled whenever the testator is of sound mind. Also, when a trust is irrevocable, you will have essentially no control over any assets in the trust, and the terms of the trust can’t be changed regardless of your mental capacity.

Surprisingly, you might not just want to change your trusts after a divorce, but possibly create a new one. If the spouses can’t come to an agreement over division of property and spousal maintenance, they can consider using an alimony trust. This is commonly used to hold and protect illiquid assets while the spouses finalize the financial aspects of their divorce. It is then used to pay the recipient spouse’s support, and can help reduce the associated tax liability.

The trust can continue indefinitely, or for a set period of time. Children and other family members can be named as the remainder beneficiaries of an alimony trust. For more information about setting up trusts in Arizona, give our Estate Planning Lawyers a call at 480-833-8000. Get assistance from our professionals. Facing divorce? Don’t forget to change your estate plan with one of our Glendale estate planning attorneys

Contact Our Arizona Legal Team To Create The Most Efficient Estate Plan For You

With all the laws and issues to consider while creating your estate plan, it’s no wonder that it takes several years of school and working experience to offer the skill set necessary to review someone’s situation and determine the best combination of legal documents for an ideal estate plan. There are numerous intricacies that go into changing an estate plan after a divorce, especially if the spouses have spent significant amounts of time living with each other in different states. The intersection of different types of laws and different states’ laws can complicate an already complicated situation even further.

When it comes to hiring a Glendale estate planning attorney, you should have high standards. You should hire a law firm with timely and courteous staff who will make sure your questions are answered  and issues are addressed promptly. You should also look for lawyers with experience working specifically in Arizona estate planning. Likewise, you also deserve an attorney who offers affordable rates with payment plans available. Lastly, you can look for the best attorney for you risk-free by interviewing attorneys who offer free consultations. Therefore, to speak with one of our dedicated AZ estate planning professionals, call 480-833-8000 to schedule your 100% free initial consultation.


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Mesa, AZ 85202

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Avondale, AZ 85392

Office: (623) 399-4222


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