When going through a divorce, the last thing that many people want to think about is reviewing their estate plan, specifically your healthcare power of attorney. But this is one of the best times to do this.
When a married couple prepares an estate plan, often they will name each other as the health care power of attorney for the other spouse. Basically, if you were incapacitated, this means that your ex-spouse would be the person responsible for giving directions to your doctor about your health care.
And, unless you split on good terms and remained best friends, I’m pretty sure you don’t want your ex at the hospital, let alone giving orders to the doctor about your care.
So what can you do about this?
Well, the first and most important thing you can do is execute a new health care power of attorney naming a new agent to make these decisions for you. In North Carolina, we typically file these documents (the health care power of attorney as well as your living will) with the Secretary of State Advanced Health Care Directives Registry.
After you have executed a new health care power of attorney, you will want to revoke the health care power of attorney currently on file. You can do this by completing and notarizing a removal form and sending it intoi the Secretary of State’s Office, free of charge.
Forget to revoke your healthcare power of attorney? Worst case scenario, North Carolina Law automatically revokes your healthcare power of attorney upon entry of a divorce order. But you don’t want to wait that long. Because you need to be separated for one year in North Carolina before you are eligible to file for divorce, you want to take care of the revocation after you initially separate from your ex.
Don’t Let Your Ex Be In Charge of Your Health Care
Whenever you go through a major life change, such as a divorce, you want to make sure that your estate planning documents are properly updated to reflect your current intentions.
If you live in the Triangle, the best way to start this process is to meet with a Cary Estate Planning Attorney to go over your options.
To schedule a wealth planning session with our office, please feel free to call us at (919) 460-5422 or fill out our online contact form.