An experienced Estate Planning Attorney can inform you of your options if you are going through a divorce. Divorces are challenging. Emotionally and financially, divorce can wreak havoc on your life as you know it. As you’re untangling your feelings surrounding this person, you also have a mountain of paperwork, assets, debt and more to consider and attend to. It can seem sometimes that the task of getting a divorce will never end. As you navigate this difficult time in your life, remember to include your estate plan in the mix. The last thing you want is to have to revisit the details of divorce unexpectedly down the road.
The act of getting married, legally awards rights to your spouse whether you have a written estate plan or not. In most states, the act of divorcing revokes those rights. However, the more complex or diverse your life together, the more you have to consider after divorce. Children, properties, financial accounts and insurance policies could hard-wire your ex-spouse’s inheritance until you expressly remove their claim. In some cases, if your ex-spouse remarries and has children from another marriage, they could have legal claim to your estate upon your death.
Experts recommend that you take some time with your estate plan in its entirety to ensure that your current life is reflected in your wishes after you pass. Though your estate may be large, you need to start somewhere. Below are suggestions for where to begin:
Revoke Your Current Will and Create a New One
Revoking your will is as simple as physically destroying it. Tear, shred or burn the old will. You can also state in your new will that it should supercede and take the place of any other will. A will commonly names the spouse as: executor of the estate, guardian of minor children, power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney. Determine what you can legally alter and make changes to suit your new life. You also want to leave any property to others by name.
Update Your Beneficiaries
Likely, you’ve named your spouse as beneficiary on life insurance policies, bank accounts and retirement accounts, at the very least. As these designations can override beneficiaries named in your will, you will want to address them individually. Review all of your accounts and policies and update the beneficiaries on each one. It’s a good rule of thumb to cross reference your will any time you name beneficiaries to make sure you don’t have conflicting designations.
Name New Powers of Attorney
In the event that you become incapacitated, a power of attorney has broad control over your assets. They can make decisions to sell real estate, access bank accounts and act with authority on any other facet of your estate. Neglecting to designate a new power of attorney could mean that your ex-spouse has this control. Furthermore, your healthcare power of attorney can make life altering decisions about your care and health should you become physically or mentally unable to function normally. Be sure to put these powers in the hands of someone you trust completely to act in your best interest.
Divorce can be a sticky situation. Time, money and energy are strained throughout the process. Visit and tend to your estate while you’re aligning all of your other affairs to safeguard your new life.
If you or someone you know is going through a divorce and needs help adjusting an estate plan, contact an estate planning attorney Bakersfield, CA. They can inform you of legal options you may not know you have. If you need help planning or settling an estate, contact The Estate Planning Department at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP.