What Do I Need to Know About Estate Planning and Divorce?

An Estate Plan Needs Extra Attention If You Are Divorced or Are in The Process of Divorcing

If you are divorcing, you are severing a big part of your life. You will experience major life changes such as your assets being divided, custody of children and various other issues. When someone is divorcing, their whole life gets put on the table for review. Depending how you go about it, either you, your soon-to-be-ex spouse, a judge or a jury are going to decide some key issues on how your assets will be divided up.

The main purpose of estate planning is to have a plan in place to protect yourself and your family. There are several scenarios that you need to consider when making your estate plan such as: incapacitation, what happens to your assets when pass away, what happens with your children and who can make decisions on your behalf. When someone is happily married, they usually create a sweet-heart wills or the reciprocal will. This means the person gives everything to their spouse if they die and vice versa.

When you are going through a divorce your whole world is changing, and your prior estate plan may not be your true wishes anymore.

Key Questions You Need to Ask Yourself When Going Through a Divorce

The first thing you should ask yourself in this situation, is how acrimonious or amicable is this divorce going to be and how will the relationship be going forward with your ex-spouse once the dust settles.

That person that you trusted during your marriage, you may still trust and you may still participate in each other’s lives. However, oftentimes the trust between ex-spouses is lost in a divorce. If your soon to be ex is not someone that you’re going to have a close relationship with after the divorce, then you need to consider what will happen to your assets when you pass away. Presumably if you have children, everything would go to them. However, the next question you need to consider is who you want to put in charge of handling your assets for the benefit of your children. If you do not have an estate plan that directs who shall control the funds for your children the court will often appoint the surviving parent, who just might be your ex that has lost your trust.

If you have a power of attorney and medical power of attorney, there is a good chance that your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is currently listed on those documents. Do you want your ex-spouse to be able to make those important medical decisions on your behalf? Or do you want to change the person in charge of your medical and financial decisions to somebody else that is more closely aligned with your new life?

You also have to decide what will now happen with your beneficiary designated accounts such as IRAs, life insurance and 401(k)s. Those are the types of things you need to analyze and possibly change after a divorce. Oftentimes, there are people that forget to make changes and leave an ex-spouse as a beneficiary on their retirement accounts (which can be a bulk of a person’s estate). However, if you decided not to cut them out entirely, it should be a decision that you make, not just an oversight.

To get information regarding Estate Planning and Divorce, call the law office of Brian M. Douglas and Associates for an initial consultation at (770) 933-9009 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.