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Estate planning after a marriage or divorce

The marriage and divorce of two people can have a large impact on your estate planning documents. Generally, its best advised to re-evaluate your testamentary documents such as wills, powers of attorney and insurance policies each time you pass a major life milestone, such as getting married, buying property, having children, or filing for divorce.

The reason for this, as described on the Royal Bank of Canada website, is to make sure that your assets and property go where you intended them to go in the event of your passing.

If you made a will when you were single, and did not update the document after you married, this can affect the provisions of your will as your spouse may have legal rights to your property and assets. Also, it is very common for spouses to name each other as their executors, or as each other’s power of attorney. If you no longer wish your spouse to act in this capacity after a divorce, it’s best to update your will. If you remarry, or have adult children from different marriages, you may also wish to update your will to reflect new preferences for these designations.

Equally important is making sure you have a conversation with people you appoint into the roles of executor or power of attorney. While you and your spouse may have had a solid understanding of what each other may want regarding health and finances in the event of incapacity, other individuals may not.

Finally, its also important to revisit documents that pass outside of a will. Many insurance policies ask you to name a beneficiary. These policies are outside of a will, and need to be revisited individually.

If you have questions about how a marriage or divorce may affect your will or other testamentary documents, it’s best to consult with an experienced estates lawyer. He or she will be able to answer your specific questions with responses tailored to your unique situation.

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