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  • Laura L. Van Tassel, Esq.

Taking control of Valentine's Day before and after your divorce

The single most important thing you need to ensure a good Valentine’s Day is not a new husband or wife. It’s the decision to take control of your life knowing you have every situation covered.

Planning is one of the most important activities to engage in during and after a divorce so you can emerge stronger and ready to move forward into the next chapter of your life.

Here are the issues you should be thinking about.

Revoke your will and make a new one

Start by revoking your old will (literally tearing it up is the best way) and making a new one. If you don’t already have a will, now’s the time to make one. The same is true if you made a living trust while you were married.

Name an executor

If you don’t want your ex-spouse to inherit your property, you probably don’t want him or her in charge of your estate, either. But if you named your spouse as your executor (called your personal representative in some states), it could happen unless you make a new will.

Update your health care proxy

The health care proxy allows you to name someone to make health care decisions for you if, for instance, you were in a car accident or had a health emergency and were unable to communicate. Unless you want your ex-spouse making these decisions – and I haven’t met many people who do – you need to name someone else you trust.

Change your power of attorney

If you had an old power of attorney naming your ex-spouse, that should be revoked. You should also execute a new power of attorney naming a friend, relative or trusted advisor to act as your agent regarding your finances and assets.

Update Beneficiary Designations

As important as your will is, it might now cover some of your most valuable assets. Many assets pass outside of a will, to beneficiaries named on paperwork provided by a bank or insurance company. So be sure to update your beneficiary designations for:

  • Life insurance policies

  • Retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s

  • Pay-on-death bank accounts

  • Transfer-on-death brokerage accounts

Make New Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney—documents that give someone authority to act for you if it’s ever necessary—are a big part of an estate plan. You should have two powers of attorney: one for healthcare (medical decisions), and one for financial matters. If you already have powers of attorney that give your former spouse authority to make decisions on your behalf, revoke them and make new documents.

Do you have a plan?

If you need a trusted divorce lawyer in New Jersey for advice and/or assistance on property and related financial matters as well as for a range of family law matters, my boutique law firm Van Tassel Law.

I have a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience in family and divorce law and over the past 20 years and have built a reputation for clarity and effectiveness and above all “A Kinder Approach To Life's Legal Issues.” If you have any questions do not hesitate to call me for a free consultation or visit my website at

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