The pandemic has dramatically impacted nearly every aspect of our everyday lives. Some have lost their primary form of income, while others may have their job stability in question. Simple activities like going grocery shopping or gathering with family and friends has now become a health and safety concern. We may have fewer social outlets than before – and may suddenly be forced to spend nearly all of our time at home with our spouse.
With the veritable deluge of stressors we have endured this year, it’s no wonder that the pandemic has hit our interpersonal relationships hard. A recent study found that the national divorce rate spiked 34% this summer compared to 2019.
The big picture
When going through a divorce, it can be easy to focus on all of the immediate issues and concerns – from where you will live to how you will split child custody. But there are larger issues you don’t want to overlook either. When going through a divorce, many couples forget to amend their estate plan to reflect this change.
Why is updating your estate plan important?
If you have not created an estate plan, the laws of North Carolina will give your estranged spouse inheritance rights regardless of your separation or desires, unless you create an estate plan directing your desires. If you already created your estate plan while you were married, it’s likely that your ex-spouse was included in many key areas. They were probably listed as a main beneficiary in your will. In addition to this, it is likely that they were also listed as your power of attorney. They could also be your designated health care proxy – and be able to make medical decisions on your behalf, if you become incapacitated.
Anytime you go through a major life change – from a divorce to a second marriage to the birth of a child or grandchild – revising your estate plan is a valuable step to take. Your estate planning attorney can walk you through all of the implications and considerations of a life-changing event to ensure that the directives stated in your plan reflect your current situation and wishes.