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Estate planning decisions during a divorce

Divorce involves many difficult emotional and financial factors. One of the most important, and one that’s often forgotten in Maryland and elsewhere, is estate planning. No matter what type of assets or end-of-life wishes are involved, making updates that reflect each person’s priorities post-divorce is crucial. Even relatively young couples who are in good health and nowhere near retirement need to make changes to their plans because the future is not certain.

One of the first things that may need to change is who will have power to act on each person’s behalf. For most married couples, the spouse holds power of attorney and healthcare proxy power. Once divorced, however, they may want to change who gets to make these important decisions. An ex-spouse with power of attorney can access bank accounts and make financial decisions in their ex-partner’s name. This power could be abused in disagreeable divorces.

Changing wills and trusts as soon as possible also requires quick action. Not only do these documents involve important financial decisions but also issues related to child custody. Naming potential guardians for children is important in case both parents pass away. While state laws grant rights to each party involved, changes to the wills and trust can make fighting for certain assets a lot more difficult.

During a divorce, it’s the job of a family law attorney to help their client make changes to power of attorney, healthcare proxy, and wills and trusts. Each amendment can have a significant impact on the future, so clients are advised to carefully consider each decision before for executing new documents. Clients should also revisit their estate plans after a divorce to ensure their decisions remain in line with their current outlook.