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If I divorce, do I have to change my Colorado will?

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2024 | Estate Planning News

Facing a divorce in Colorado prompts not only emotional adjustments, but also requires careful consideration of your estate plan. After all, you would not want your ex-spouse inheriting your assets or making decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

How divorce impacts your estate plan

In Colorado, a divorce decree automatically annuls the designation of your ex-spouse as a beneficiary or fiduciary in any will or trust. This ensures that, unless documents are updated, your assets will pass to the named contingent beneficiary instead. This also applies to appointments designating your spouse as your personal representative, executor or power of attorney.

Not 100% insurance

However, this automatic revocation comes into effect only after the divorce is finalized. If you pass away before the divorce is official, your ex-spouse might still inherit your assets or act on your behalf if you have not updated your estate plan. Therefore, it is prudent to revise your plan promptly after initiating divorce proceedings.

Updating your estate plan is also essential because your ex-spouse may no longer be the ideal person to inherit your property or make decisions for you. Your preferences may shift towards naming children, parents, siblings or friends as beneficiaries or fiduciaries, adjusting the type or amount of assets each receives based on your current financial situation and goals.

Changes to make after a divorce

The specific modifications needed in your estate plan post-divorce depend on your individual circumstances. Nevertheless, some common changes include revoking your old will and creating a new one aligned with your current wishes and beneficiaries. You will also need to establish or revise your guardianship nomination if you have minor children, designating someone to care for them if you pass away or become incapacitated.

Do not forget to update beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, bank accounts and other assets passing outside probate. Review and update trust documents to eliminate or replace your ex-spouse as a beneficiary or trustee.

Finally, update your durable power of attorney for financial and healthcare matters, designating someone else to manage your affairs if incapacitated. And, update your living will or advance directive, expressing your preferences regarding end-of-life care.

Navigating pitfalls

Updating your estate plan amid a divorce is intricate and emotionally charged. To avoid pitfalls, seek guidance to ensure your documents adhere to Colorado law, and consult with your divorce attorney before making any changes during divorce proceedings to navigate potential legal restrictions.