It takes just one document, a marriage certificate, to get hitched. Most divorces, on the other hand, require a multitude of paperwork ... a petition for dissolution of marriage, answer to the petition, marital settlement agreement, reciprocal financial disclosure documents, parenting plan (if you have minor children), and a laundry list of other documents leading up to the final decree. Unfortunately, even after you've detangled your married life legally, you still have a lot of planning to do in order to take care of your post-divorce self.
During the divorce process you've likely changed the title to your car and changed the owner names on joint bank accounts, mortgages, and credit cards. You've probably also changed the names of the beneficiaries on insurance policies and pension benefits. How many of you have also thought about your estate-planning documents? Have you changed your will? Power of attorney? Advance directives? Planning for your healthcare needs post-divorce is an important step in preparing for your new life.
Whether you consider yourself rich, poor, or somewhere in the middle, you will inevitably need a plan in place to handle issues that come up when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Below are the 3 must-have documents you need as part of your post-divorce estate-planning package:
- Healthcare Power of Attorney This is the document you use to appoint someone to have authority to make important medical decisions for you when you become disabled or incapacitated.
- Simple Will This document will be your voice after your death, distributing your assets in accordance with your express wishes.
- Advance Directive (Living Will) This important document communicates your end-of-life decisions to your loved ones and medical professionals. This document tells your healthcare provider whether you want to receive or refuse life-sustaining care, when you are unable to communicate your wishes yourself.
The impact of your divorce extends to most facets of your life, including your healthcare. As you divide your house, cars and furniture; as you create complicated time-sharing agreements for your children; and as you embrace your new post-divorce life changes, don't forget to put in place plans to take care of yourself when you aren't in a position to do so on your own.