Estate planning is complicated enough for two people who have stayed married. If you get divorced, it adds a number of new wrinkles that have to be considered.

This shouldn't intimidate you or make you want to put it off. It just helps to show that you need to take an active approach to really consider estate planning from all sides, ensuring that your plan is exactly what you and your family need.

Below are four things that can help.

  1. Consider the financial obligations from the divorce agreement. For instance, if you're playing alimony to your ex, how does that change the total picture of your assets that you get to pass on to the kids?
  2. Look at any documents and planning you did before the divorce. For instance, did you name your ex as the beneficiary on a retirement plan or a life insurance policy? Be sure to update everything properly.
  3. Consider guardianship issues. This is especially true when your own kids are young or when you've gotten remarried -- or your ex has -- and so there are now blended families to consider.
  4. Focus on the long-term goals. What do you hope to achieve? How do you want to use the money and other assets to provide for the kids? Often, you can start by figuring out what main long-term goals you have, and then you can work your way back to find a solution that fits.

During this whole process, it's often wise to keep lines of communication open between you, your kids and even your ex. Be sure you are all on the same page as you look into your legal options.

Source: Fidelity, "The second time around," accessed Nov. 08, 2017

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