You may not need an estate plan unless you are ill, or have a lot of savings and property. However, you and your ex-spouse (or ex-partner) must update your wills. It’s even more important if you have one or more children together. Here are some things to think about:
• What will happen to my family if I die? How will the lives of my children change if my ex-spouse, myself, or both of us are no longer there to support them?
After a divorce or separation, both parents normally continue to support their children, either with their income, or by taking care of them, or both. You will each need a will to state your wishes for your children’s care and support if you should die. You may also want to make dependent children the beneficiaries of any retirement plans you have.
If you support your ex-spouse, what will happen to them financially if you die? You may have specified this in your separation or divorce agreement settlement. If not, be sure your will states your wishes. Many divorce agreements require you to get life insurance to replace your support payments if something happens to you.
• What will happen if I am badly injured or too ill to make decisions?
For example, who will pay your bills? If you provide child support or spousal support payments, who will see that they continue smoothly? If you are the main caregiver, who will care for the children if you are not able? You and your ex-spouse each need a power of attorney and a living will to state your wishes. These papers give the people you name the power to make financial and health care decisions for you if you are not able.
Content in this section is provided in partnership with the Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization promoting financial literacy to Canadians. To find out more go to GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca.