Good Estate Planning After A Divorce

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After going through an emotionally challenging and difficult divorce, estate planning is probably the last thing on your mind. However, it is a good idea to make changes to your will so that you don’t end up giving everything to your ex. Thankfully, the team at Newport Divorce Attorney is ready to handle your estate planning after your divorce. 

Good Estate Planning After A Divorce
Good Estate Planning After A Divorce

What is Estate Planning?

Creating an estate plan is essentially creating a plan of who will get your possessions once you pass on. Who do you want to take care of your house? Who do you want to watch after your children? Are there any specific possessions you want your parents to have? Etc. 

The main parts of an estate plan are composed of:

  • Who you want to leave your property to
  • Who you want to execute your estate plan
  • Who you want to be the guardian of your children if you pass.

These things can be greatly affected by a divorce, so it is important to change your estate plan afterward.

Why Should You Change Your Estate Plan After a Divorce?

Until the judge signs the papers of dissolution, you are still legally married to your ex-spouse. This means that if you are to die before the divorce is finalized, you could potentially end up leaving all of your possessions to them. 

Thankfully, in the state of California, once your divorce is finalized all the gifts you gave your former spouse will no longer be valid. However, this still leaves the question of who will get those bequests? If a new beneficiary is not written into your estate plan, your possessions could end up being auctioned off.

Estate Planning Checklist After Divorce

As mentioned above, an estate plan can cover a wide variety of topics. There are a few important topics that you need to make sure you change/update after a divorce. 


Any and all of the property that was left to your ex-spouse should be modified. For example, if you have a vehicle in your estate plan that was going to go to your ex, change it. Choose someone else you would want to get the vehicle with and update your will accordingly. Make sure you take the time to update any beneficiaries that include your ex-spouse or a relative/friend of your ex-spouse. The items you will want to double-check are beneficiaries of your:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s
  • Pay-on-death bank accounts
  • Transfer-on-death brokerage accounts
  • Any other assets you may have


The executor of your will is the person you want to handle the distribution of your estate once you have died. In many cases, the spouse is listed as the executor of the estate in a joint will. Once you have legally divorced in California, the executor is no longer allowed to be your ex-spouse. However, you will still want to input a new executor who you trust to divide your assets how you wanted. 


Even once spouses have divorced, guardianship of your children tends to be left to the ex-spouse. In many cases, unless a parent is unfit to raise their child, they are given guardianship over someone else. You can still change who you list as the guardian, however many times guardianship will be given to the other parent regardless of who you list. If you have strong reasons for wanting your ex-spouse to not be the legal guardian, you should write up a document explaining your reasoning. 

Powers of Attorney

There are two powers of attorney that are listed on your will. Your medical power of attorney and your financial power of attorney. In the event that you are unable to make a decision for yourself (in regards to medical treatments or financial reasons) the people listed as your powers of attorney will make the decision for you. While this is not technically part of estate planning, it is an important document that you will want to update after a divorce. 

Newport Divorce Attorney

Having a team of knowledgeable and experienced divorce attorneys on your side will make it easier for you when it comes to estate planning. The lawyers at Newport Divorce Attorney have helped hundreds of people create a good estate plan after a divorce. 

Have you recently gone through a divorce? Are you looking to make updates to your estate plan? Call us at (949) 752-2727, or visit our website to schedule an estate planning consultation. 

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