Many couples create an estate plan shortly after getting married, purchasing a house, or having kids. These are all exciting times in the life of a married couple. However, if you and your spouse recently decided to end your marriage, it can feel like all of those plans are up in the air. During this upheaval, you should take charge of your financial future and revisit your estate plan so that you are prepared to update it once your divorce or dissolution is finalized.
What assets should you review?
Your claim to property will likely change after a divorce. For example, you may have to sell certain property to your ex-spouse, or even sell it to settle personal debts. During your matter, you may have changed your mind about who you want to inherit your property. You should document these changes as soon as possible after your divorce is finalized.
You can change your estate plan to reflect your new overall wishes to avoid uncomfortable or uncertain situations in the future. This should include changing your power of attorney and the executor of your estate.
Other important areas of your estate plan include the following:
- Living wills;
- Revocable trusts;
- Inheritance rights of ex-step children; and
- Family burial plots.
How will timing affect the process?
Even if you settle your matter out of court, you will need a legal representative to amend your estate plan. You will also need to think through your wishes for your estate, even if they are preliminary. If your wishes or circumstances change, be sure to revisit your plan.
However, you should not revise your estate plan before your matter is finalized. In some cases, filing for divorce, as opposed to dissolution, will cause the Court to automatically issue a Temporary Restraining Order. Revision of your estate plan during the pendency of your matter would violate that Court order. Be sure to consult with your family law attorney before modifying your estate plan. Keep in mind that your ex-spouse is not automatically disinherited from some portions of your estate plan after the termination of your marriage.
Every step of your matter can be difficult in its own unexpected way. These can be extremely personal decisions. An experienced attorney can keep your wishes in mind and find the best options for you. They can guide you through this process in a way that is legally viable and avoids overwhelming you.