In a previous post, we discussed the importance of having a prenuptial agreement; not just for financial protection reasons but also for estate planning reasons as a prenup can define and protect inheritances.
However, people should also have estate planning documents in place that dictate their wishes in the event they can no longer make decisions on their own or pass away. Documents like power of attorney and living wills can be quite powerful as they establish who can make decisions on your behalf if you cannot do that on your own. In many cases, your spouse will take on this role so if you are getting divorced, it can be a good idea to review these documents and make whatever changes you feel are necessary.
This very issue came up recently after the tragic collapse of NBA star Lamar Odom who is now in an unconscious state. While he is best known for his success in basketball, Odom was also in the spotlight after he married reality TV star Khloe Kardashian. The two were married for four years before Kardashian filed for divorce in 2013.
However, the papers were not signed until July of this year and the courts have yet to enter a judgment due to a significant backlog in cases. This means that Kardashian is legally still Odom’s wife and in the position to make medical decisions for him, whether either of them wants that to happen or not.
This situation is an unfortunate reminder of how important it can be to discuss what you want to happen in the event that you cannot make decisions yourself, including the role you want (or don’t want) your spouse or ex-spouse to play in that situation.
Failing to discuss these matters and reassess them in the event of a significant life change can leave you and others in a position to make some difficult decisions. It can also come as quite a shock to an ex or soon-to-be ex who may not be prepared to do those things.
In order to protect yourself, your loved ones and your future, it can be wise to consider what you want to happen in the event of premature death while you are married. If you get divorced, you can revisit these wishes and make the necessary changes with the help of your attorney.
Source: Fox Sports, “Reports: Khloe making medical decisions for Odom; divorce never final,” Oct. 15, 2015