Can my ex-spouse still make financial decisions for me?

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2019 | Divorce

Even if your marriage is over, in a sense, it might not be completely over, not if you neglected to change your power of attorney documents. Many New York spouses designate each other to act as a power of attorney. However, just because a marriage ends does not mean that a POA designation ends with it. If you are not careful, your former spouse could end up becoming your power of attorney even years after your marriage had ended.

Forbes explains that a durable power of attorney grants your spouse a lot of access to assets and accounts you own, including assets that are only in your name and not jointly owned by you and your spouse. In the event you are incapacitated or disabled in a way that you cannot make decisions for yourself, your spouse could use that power of attorney even though you two are no longer married.

If you believe you had made your spouse a power of attorney at some point, it is important to change that designation. You might have to create a new power of attorney with a child or someone you trust making financial decisions for you in case of incapacitation. Your spouse may need notice of your change in POA designation, which is typically provided by your attorney.

It is also important to examine any other provisions you have made for your spouse to take over decision-making power from you should you become incapacitated. You might have made your spouse a health care proxy who can take charge of your medical decisions if you become disabled or if you wind up in emergency care and cannot communicate medical wishes to doctors. You would likely want to change this designation as well.

Another place to possibly make changes is your will. You might have made your spouse the executor of your estate, but if you do not want your ex in charge of your assets after you pass away, you have to change your executor to someone else. Similarly, if you named your spouse as a trustee of your revocable trust, you will have to change your trustee to a different person.

This article does not offer legal advice for your situation. It is only intended to provide general information on the topic of divorce.