Estate Planning Documents to Update after a Divorce or Separation

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After you separate from someone, you need to update your estate planning documents to protect yourself, your children and your assets. These are some crucial matters to consider. Here are the documents you need to update:

1. Your Will

After you have separated, you should create a new will and review your powers of attorney, advance directives, trusts, proxy, delegation, etc. You may need to formally revoke these documents to prevent your ex-partner from continuing to control aspects of your life. However, while the revocation documents are not as confidential as the will, they still must be communicated to the individuals you had previously appointed; thus, these documents are not completely private.

2. Power of Attorney

If you become incapacitated, you will need someone to handle your finances. Prepare a power of attorney that names someone you trust. However, have it revoked if you already have a power of attorney. This means you must notify your banks to let them know the prior power of attorney is no longer valid.

3. Life Insurance

If the decree requires your soon-to-be ex-spouse to take out life insurance for the benefit of you or your children, make sure your divorce decree contains a requirement for proof of insurance with a designation of who the life insurance proceeds will be paid to in the event of that person’s death.

4. Online Accounts with Service Providers

Change all of your passwords on all of your online accounts. Ideally, all services should be notified in writing, but at the very least, do this for the major providers. Do not grant your former spouse access to any of them.

5. Important Personal Documents

Ensure you have a copy of your important documents, including birth certificates, passports and driver’s licenses. Some people decide to change their last name after the divorce. If you decide to do this, you must change your name with your passport, driver’s license and voter registration.

6. Joint Assets Like Cars and Real Estate

If you own a house together or jointly own a car, ensure it is split 50/50 in the divorce. You do not want to risk giving up 50 percent of your assets. You also need to be extra careful when dealing with shared assets. For example, do not lend your credit card or withdraw from your bank accounts to your former spouse. If you do, you may put your credit score in jeopardy. 

7. Your Children’s Trust Fund Accounts

Make sure any trust accounts set up for your children have a proper beneficiary designation that lists you as the beneficiary. If you and your ex-spouse have had joint bank accounts, ensure you have the majority of the money in an account controlled solely by you. If you have joint debt with someone, contact the creditor and have the account’s name changed to reflect that you are the primary borrower on the credit card or loan.


Divorce can be an emotionally and financially challenging time for the parties involved. If you are going through a divorce or preparing for one, update your estate planning documents after the separation. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Bickell and Mackenzie is a well-known family-owned law firm within the Redlands area. It specialises in conveyancing for buying and selling houses, commercial businesses and retirement homes, wills and estates administration and family law. If you need a lawyer specialising in divorce lawyers in Redland Bay, phone our office at (07) 3206 8700.

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