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How Divorce Affects Your Estate Planning

Our Idaho estate planning attorneys have been assisting clients in Idaho in creating their personal estate plans for over 70 years. Part of the services we provide is helping our clients adjust or amend their plan when a divorce occurs. This is true regardless of whether the divorce affects the individual themselves or if it involves one of their children or other individuals listed in their plan.

At the Racine law office we have a team of Idaho estate planning attorneys who work together to provide the best legal services possible to each of our estate planning clients. Our team consists of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each member of our team has earned the highest rankings available from the best known legal rating services of AVVO, Justia, and Martindale & Hubbell. The ratings our attorneys received are based on reviews provided by actual clients, other attorneys, and judges.

Based upon our experience and skills we have the ability to assist you when a divorce occurs in your family. If you already have an estate plan in place and a divorce happens in your family here are three things you should specifically think about:

1. Beneficiaries

The first thing you should consider is who the beneficiaries listed in the estate plan are. For example, if you get a divorce this will have a big impact on who you have listed and who you will want to have listed as a recipient of the assets of your estate. More than likely you will have listed your spouse as the primary beneficiary. This individual will be identified by their specific name.

A divorce does not automatically remove your spouse as the primary beneficiary listed in your written estate plan. Rather you will be required to amend, or rewrite, or redo your estate plan to remove the name of your ex-spouse. This is true because the law in Idaho allows you to name any individual you choose as a beneficiary of your estate. In other words, if a name is listed in your last will and testament as a recipient of money or property from your estate, the law will assume that this was your specific intent and that gift will be given. Even when a divorce occurs, if you do not change the names listed in your last will and testament, the law will again assume that your intention was to keep those individuals as your beneficiaries.

The only real way to protect your estate after a divorce is to change your last will and testament and the individuals you have named as beneficiaries. So the most important step you can take if a divorce has occurred in your family is to read through your last will and testament to decide if it’s still does what you want it to do. If it does not, or if it lists the names of people you no longer want to receive your money, property or assets, then it is time to make a change.

2. Fiduciaries

Naming your fiduciaries is similar to making a decision about who your beneficiaries will be. When a major life change happens in your life, such as a divorce, it is a good idea to read your estate planning documents and decide if the fiduciaries you listed are still the individuals you want to be named. What does this really mean?

A fiduciary is an individual that you named to do some specific thing on your behalf or on behalf of your estate. An example of a fiduciary would include the individual you named as your personal representative. An additional fiduciary could be a trustee of your trust, a guardian for your minor children, or the individual you named as your Power of Attorney.

In each of these instances, while you were married, it is likely that your spouse was named as the first fiduciary in all of your estate planning documents. In other words, it’s likely that your ex-spouse was named by you to be your personal representative or to hold the power of attorney for you. However, while a divorce changes everything about your relationships is doesn’t automatically change your estate planning documents. After a divorce it is very likely that you no longer want your ex-spouse to be given these positions of power in your estate. For this reason, reviewing not only who your beneficiaries are, but also who the individuals are that are named as fiduciaries, is vitally important after a major life change such as a divorce.

3. Assets

The final thing to consider regarding your estate plan if a divorce has occurred is the assets that you own. Most people are familiar with the fact that a divorce usually results in a division of assets that are owned by each individual. One of the major purposes of a divorce is to split the assets up so that the parties can go forward with their lives and not continue to be associated with each other as joint owners of assets.

Likewise, a major part of estate planning is determining who will receive your assets after you die. Because of this, after a divorce occurs, it is important for you to determine what your assets are. If your previous documents stated that specific assets that you owned at that time would be given to individuals, but a divorce removes your ownership interest in those assets, it will be necessary to change your documents so that it accurately reflects what you own now.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho Estate Planning lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning needs. Whether you or a loved one has recently experienced a divorce, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation. You can also email us directly at We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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