There are a lot of things to deal with when a marriage is ending. Even the most amicable divorce can be complicated, and it is important to have all financial, medical, and property documents in order and appropriately revised when necessary to reflect the change in marital status. Many states will automatically void a will after its maker has gotten a divorce, and the laws of intestacy will apply until a new one is made.
Other crucial documents that may need to be updated are bank accounts, especially if they are joint accounts, retirement account and insurance policy beneficiaries, powers of attorney, and any deeds and titles previously held jointly with the ex-spouse. It is important to remember that many assets pass outside of probate and are distributed in accordance with beneficiary designations, so even if a will has been rewritten these designations may need to be reviewed. Spouses who are changing their last names will need to update passports, utility bills, and children’s school records. Depending upon the tenor of the feelings between the couple, ex-spouses may want to consider changing emergency contact lists as well.
Another document that may need to be reviewed and updated is an advanced healthcare directive if the ex-spouse was listed. In case of a medical problem, this directive will determine the extent of emergency measures that will be taken in the event that the person is incapacitated or otherwise incapable of making a reasoned decision.
The divorce process can be at times collaborative and at other times contentious. Regardless of the relationship between the ex-spouses, it is important to remember that key documents may need to be reviewed and appropriately revised.
Source: Forbes, “Divorcing Women: Don’t Forget To Update These Key Documents“, Jeff Landers, December 04, 2013