Divorce impacts nearly every aspect of someone’s life, from their emotional health to their finances. One area that may not be at the front of someone’s mind is the impact of a divorce on their estate plan. Few among us would want our ex-spouse to inherit property in the same way we wished during the marriage. However, without updating estate planning documents, things might not work out the way you intended.

Most estate planners advise updating a will and other documents after any significant life event, including divorce. As we outline below, making changes to an estate plan following a separation can help to avoid future headaches and safeguard your wishes.

Updating health care directives and powers of attorney

Many people designate their spouse as their health care proxy or give them the financial power of attorney. However, for obvious reasons, these designations should change upon divorce. Revoking old powers of attorney and naming a new person to act as your agent are essential steps to ensure your wishes are upheld. Otherwise, if an accident or unexpected illness occurs, the wrong person might be left making decisions about your care.

Can an ex-spouse inherit by accident?

Under Alabama Code Section 43-8-137, a divorce revokes any bequests made to the former spouse in a will. Essentially, the process of distributing property under the will proceeds as if the former spouse died first. However, to ensure property passes precisely according to your wishes, it is wise to update your will following a divorce.