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5 Estate Planning Must-Dos if You’re Getting Divorced -Part 2

by | Apr 26, 2020

In the first part of this series, we discussed a couple of the most critical updates you must make to your estate plan if you’re getting divorced. Here, we’ll cover the last three of these must-do planning tasks.

Getting a divorce is a stressful and overwhelming process, and setting aside time to update your estate plan may seem like a lot or may not seem like a priority. But, not updating your plan for your divorce may have very tragic consequences, some of which you may not have ever considered.

In fact, it’s critical that you update your plan as soon as you know the split is inevitable not just after the divorce is final. The reason is that until your divorce is final, your are still legally married so if you were to die or become incapacitated while the divorce is still pending and you haven’t updated your planning, your soon-to-be ex-spouse could end up with complete control over your assets and your life.

For example, if you were to suddenly die of a heart attack while your divorce is pending and you didn’t update your estate plan, your soon to be ex may inherit everything. And if that’s not bad enough, if you were to become incapacitated in a car accident or from an illness during the divorce process, the very person you’re paying big money to legally remove from your life could be granted complete authority over all of your legal, financial, and healthcare decisions.

Most of the time, this is not something your divorce attorney will think to mention, but it’s one of the most critical matters you need to handle if you’re ending your marriage. In Part One of this Article, we discussed the first two estate planning changes you must make, updating your power of attorney documents and beneficiary designations, and today we’ll share the remaining three.

3. Create a new will

You should create a new will as soon as you decide to get divorced, because once you file, you may not be able to change your will. You will want to decide how you want to divide your assets and name new beneficiaries for any assets that you were previously planning on leaving to your ex – or his family. Finally, you will also likely need to name a new Personal Representative.

Some states have laws that entitle your surviving spouse to a certain percentage of the marital estate upon your death, regardless of what’s in your will. This means if you die before the divorce is final, you probably won’t be able to entirely disinherit your surviving spouse through the new will.

However, it’s almost certain you wouldn’t want your ex to get everything. That is why it is so important that you update your will as soon as you know divorce is inevitable so that the people you care for the most will inherit the proper percentage of your funds when should you pass away before your divorce is final.

We can help you fully understand what you need to change for your will whether you decide to update it before or after the divorce.

4. Amend your existing trust or create a new one

If you have a revocable trust set up, you’ll want to review and update it, too. Like wills, the laws governing whether you can change your trust during a divorce vary as well, which is why you should consider making any changes as soon as you know a divorce is certain.

If you don’t have a trust set up, especially if you have minor children, you should consider creating one. Trusts provide a wide range of powers and benefits unavailable through a will, and they’re particularly well-suited for blended families. It is more than likely that you and your ex-spouse will remarry other people and possibly have more kids, so trusts are a great way to protect and take care of the assets you want for your children.

For example, should you die or become incapacitated while your kids are still minors, by having a trust in place, you can name someone of your choosing to serve as successor trustee to manage their money until they reach adulthood, making it impossible for your ex to meddle with their inheritance.

Beyond this key benefit, trusts afford you several other levels of enhanced protections and control not possible with a will. So, you should at least discuss creating a trust with an experienced lawyer like us before ruling out the option entirely.

5. Revisit your plan once your divorce is final

During the divorce process, your main planning concern is limiting your soon-to-be ex’s control over your life and assets should you die or become incapacitated before divorce is final. A lot of times, the people you may name to replace your soon to be ex may are often just temporary.

Once the divorce is final and your marital property has been divided up, you should revisit all of your estate planning documents and make any updates based on your new asset profile and situation. After that, your plan will continuously evolve along with your life circumstances, particularly following major life events, such as remarriage, having additional children, and/or when close family members pass away.

Don’t wait; Act now!

Divorce is one of life’s most difficult transitions, which is why it is so important that you make the time to update your estate plan during this trying time. Once you know that divorce is unavoidable, make the time to meet with us so that we can review your plan immediately.

Putting off updating your plan, even for a few days, during a divorce can make it legally impossible to change certain parts of your plan, so it is important to take action right away. And if don’t have estate plan at all, an impending divorce is the perfect time to finally take care of this crucial task. Contact us today to get the process underway with a Family Planning Session.

This article is a service of The Solution Law Firm, P.A. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

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