January 13, 2018
Your estate plan is probably not on the top of your mind while you are going through a divorce. However, a divorce impacts your estate plan in many ways, and you will most likely need to update several documents either before or immediately after your divorce to account for your change in marital status.
When to Consult and Estate Planning Attorney
Ideally, you should consult an estate planning attorney before you file for divorce. If you don’t already have an estate planning lawyer, your divorce attorney may be able to recommend someone to assist you.
The reason to talk to an attorney before you file for divorce is because you may be unable to make certain changes while the divorce is pending. Your divorce involves a distribution of marital property, and you won’t be able to make changes to how this property is owned while the matter is before a court. You may be able to make other changes to your estate plan during this time, such as updating your will and any powers of attorney.
Changes You Need to Make After a Divorce
You may think that simply removing your spouse as a beneficiary in your will is sufficient to change your estate plan after a divorce. However, there are many other parts of your estate plan that you need to consider as well.
First, you need to review your beneficiary designations on any bank accounts, retirement accounts, or life insurance policies. These accounts are not impacted by your will, and may pass to your designated beneficiaries regardless of what the will says.
If your spouse is named as the executor to your estate or has a healthcare or durable power of attorney, you will also want to select someone else to fulfill these tasks. These are the basic items of your estate plan that you should adjust, but you may also have more complex matters that your estate planning attorney should review.
More Complex Estate Planning Matters
If you have minor children with your former spouse, you will have other estate planning matters to consider. You may need to choose a guardian to care for them is something happens to both you and your former spouse. You should also think about how you want to leave assets to them—whether in a trust or a custodial account—because they won’t be able to legally hold title to property until they are 18 years old.
The lawyers at King Law can help you plan for what happens after you’re gone, and we’re here to help you get a better sense of where you stand. We invite you to come in and talk with one of our attorneys in person during a consultation. Our number is 888-748-KING (5464).