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Please call our Director of Client Relations, Pattie Brown, at 1-800-500-2525 ext. 117 or email Pattie at pbrown@trustlaw.com if you need any further assistance.

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Divorce and Estate Planning: Advice to Follow

It’s a tale as old as time. A couple is married for several years and during that time, the couple successfully grows a small business into a million dollar one. The couple’s marriage ultimately does not last and they divorce. Because the couple is still young, they do not have any estate plans. Tragedy strikes and the husband or wife does not survive. Because the deceased person’s will was never change, all of their assets are inherited by the estranged spouse rather than the deceased person’s family. 

 

This story demonstrates why it is important to revise your estate plans during a divorce. In addition to making certain that estate planning advice is followed, this article reviews some of the other important advice that you follow after a divorce.

 

# 1  – Update Your Healthcare Proxy

 

In addition to potential fatalities, it is important that after a divorce there is the potential for accidents to occur that can leave a person incapacitated. As a result, it is important to make sure that your healthcare power of attorney is properly updated. 

 

This is because many married people name their significant other as the person who will make these healthcare decisions. If you fail to revise these documents, your former spouse can end up in a very uncomfortable situation. 

 

# 2 – Review Your Prenuptial Agreement

 

If you had a prenuptial agreement during your marriage, it is critical that this document be reviewed in consideration of your potential death or incapacity. Any new estate plan should also be written to reflect the terms of this agreement. 

 

# 3 – Change the Terms of Any Trusts

 

If it is possible to change the terms of your trust and your spouse is named as a beneficiary, it is important to revise this immediately. Some people with trusts who are going through divorce even consider whether appointing the other spouse to hold money to use for the couple’s children is appropriate. 

 

# 4 – Don’t Forget about Beneficiary Designations

 

After a divorce, many people remember to change their estate plan, but fail to consider beneficiary designations. As a result, if a catastrophe strikes, a person’s former ex-spouse is still the appointed individual who takes under these terms. 

 

If you are not okay with ex spouse taking assets as a beneficiary, it is worth changing these documents.

 

# 5 – Resolve Guardianship Issues

 

In addition to making decisions about assets, it is also important to resolve a number of other issues including those involving guardianship. 

 

Some divorcing spouses even decide to write legal agreements concerning the interaction that the children will have with family members on each side and who you want to be appointed guardian in case something happens to your children.

 

Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer

 

Estate planning is complex, but an experienced estate planning lawyer can help you anticipate the numerous challenges that can arise. We understand that when divorce is involved, the need to act quickly in changing estate plans is often present. 

 

 

Contact Ettinger Estate Planning today to speak with a lawyer who can help you create a successful estate plan.

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