By the time couples are ready to divorce, most of the time, they want it to be over as soon as possible. In some cases, one party wants to drag things out to enact revenge on the other party. But, in most instances, both parties want to know when everything will just be over. Unfortunately, once a divorce is initiated, that is just the beginning of the process to get divorced. There are documents to collect, negotiations, court hearings, property to separate, and lots of “homework” for each party to do. One thing that should not be overlooked by anyone going through a divorce is the process of updating estate planning documents and beneficiary information. For example, look at this Supreme Court case SCOTUS recently decided. In Sveen v. Melin,[1] a husband did not change his life insurance beneficiary when he divorced, so when he died many years after the divorce, his ex-wife was the beneficiary. She claimed that she should be entitled to the proceeds instead of his children. The state in which they lived had a law that ensured that once a couple was divorced the life insurance beneficiary designation of an ex-spouse would automatically be revoked. The ex-wife argued that since the life insurance policy was created before the law went into effect, the Constitution’s Contract Clause prevented the State from applying the law in her case. SCOTUS rightfully determined that there were limits to the Contract Clause, and in this case, the ex-wife had no right to the money from the life insurance policy. Even though this case was decided in the children’s favor, it is important to make sure that once you are going through a divorce, you update your estate planning documents (will, living will, health care, power of attorney, power of attorney and any trusts) and you also update all of your beneficiary designations on any retirement or life insurance policies. Please give our office a call if you need assistance in a divorce or if you need help updating your estate planning documents.

[1] https://www.scotusblog.com/2018/06/opinion-analysis-court-rejects-constitutional-challenge-to-state-law-on-insurance-policies-after-divorce/;https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/sveen-v-melin/.