What should I do with estate planning during divorce or separation? Of course, divorce is never easy. Adding the complexities of estate planning can make it harder. However, it still needs to be included during the divorce process, says a recent article entitled “How to Change Your Estate Plan During Divorce from the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Some of the critical things to bear in mind during divorce include:
Is your Property Power of Attorney immediately effective, and what does it let your spouse do? A Property Power of Attorney can be made effective only if you are disabled, or alternatively be used right now. The immediate document conveys great power and can be abused, If your spouse is in change, change it and give notice to the spouse in writing. If immediately effective, your estate planning during divorce should include formal notice to your financial institutions.
Is your Last Will and Testament aligned with your pending divorce? The unexpected occurs, whether planning a relaxing vacation or a contentious divorce. If you were to die in the process, which usually takes a few years, who would inherit your worldly goods? Your ex? A trust created to take care of your children, with a trusted sibling as a trustee?
Are your beneficiary designations up to date? For the same reason, make sure that life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and any financial accounts allowing you to name a beneficiary are current to reflect your pending or new marital status.
Certain changes may not be made until the divorce is finalized. For instance, there are laws concerning spouses and pension distribution. You might not be able to make a change until the divorce is finalized. If your divorce agreement includes maintaining life insurance for the support of minor children, you must keep your spouse (or whoever is the agreed-upon guardian) as the policy beneficiary.
Once the court accepts the divorce decree, the best path forward is to have a completely new will prepared. Making a patchwork estate plan of amendments can be more expensive and leave your estate more vulnerable after you have passed. A new will revokes the original document, including naming an executor and a guardian for minor children.
The will is far from the only document to be changed. Other documents to be created include health care directives and medical and financial powers of attorney—all these name people who will act on your behalf in the event of incapacity.
It’s a good idea to update Health Care documents during the divorce process. If you are in the middle of an ugly, emotionally charged divorce, the last person you want to make life or death decisions as your health care proxy or being in charge of your finances is your soon-to-be ex-spouse. During a divorce, you should name someone other than your spouse as your medical spokesperson for estate planning.
Talk with your estate planning attorney, so your attorney knows you’re going through the divorce process. Bear in mind that if that attorney represented you both in creating a plan, they might not be able to keep personal changes you are making due to a conflict of interest.
If that is the case, don’t tell them anything that you would not want the spouse to know. Remember that confidentiality between an attorney and a married couple does not extend to each other.
After the divorce, they will make further recommendations to protect you, your children, and your estate during and after the divorce.
Reference: Waco Tribune-Herald (Oct. 18, 2021″ “How to Change Your Estate Plan During Divorce “