When you are planning to divorce you may not think of estate planning as a priority. However, among the top five tips for divorce planning are creating a will, a trust, and thoroughly reviewing your estate plans.
Why You Should Prepare a Will When Planning to Divorce
If you have an existing will, you should create a new one because once you file for divorce you may not be able to make any changes. If you don’t have a will, then you should consider creating a temporary one. If something were to happen to either one of you (ex. heart attack), the other spouse may take all by operation of law.
You need to rethink how you’d want your half of the assets be left to which means you’re naming new beneficiaries. At present, you probably have your spouse listed as the beneficiary. I’m guessing if something happens to you before the divorce is final, you wouldn’t want him or her to take your whole estate.
Given the circumstances, it would be wise to update your will as soon as possible once you know you’re ready to proceed forward with the divorce.
And, if you choose not to create a new will during the divorce process, anything you have in place will be revoked by default after all is said and done.
With so many unknowns, reach out to us as soon as you know you’re planning to divorce so we can help. We’ll give you clarity in how to best proceed.
Amend Your Existing Trust or Create a New One Now
If you have a revocable living trust set up, you’ll want to
- review and update it, too.
- see who you have listed as successor trustee so you can decide if a replacement is needed.
- if you don’t have a trust in place at all, now is the time to seriously consider creating one, especially if there are minor children.
Living trusts allow you broad powers and benefits that are not readily available in wills. And, during your lifetime, you are named the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary. This means you have continual fluidity with your assets while you are alive. Only when you pass away does your revocable living trust become irrevocable.
Life doesn’t halt once you divorce. There is a probability that you may remarry and the trust can work well for you in a blended family. Ultimately, you want to protect and manage your assets for the ones you love the most.
For example, with a trust in place should you pass away or become incapacitated while your kids are minors, you can name someone to serve as successor trustee to manage their money until they reach majority age (18) and have peace of mind you have full control.
Revisit Your Plan Once Your Divorce is Final
When ending a marriage, your main divorce planning concern should be to limit your soon-to-be ex’s control over your life and assets should you die or become incapacitated before divorce is final.
Given this, the individuals to whom you grant power of attorney, name as trustee, designate to receive your 401k, or add to your estate plan in any other way while the divorce is ongoing are often just temporary.
Once the divorce is final and your marital property has been divided up in equity, you should revisit all of your estate planning documents and make any necessary updates. From there, your plan should continuously evolve along with your life circumstances, particularly following major life changing events, such as remarrying, having more children, buying a home, business and more. As you know, life is ever evolving causing continual change in our life.
Don’t Wait When Planning to Divorce
Even though divorce can be one of your life’s most difficult transitions, it’s imperative that you make the time to update your estate plan during this time.
Meet with us as your Divorce Legacy Lawyer to review your plan immediately upon deciding to take that next step. Together we can get started with a PEACE Estate Planning Session.
This article is a service of Vázquez Law, PLLC. 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 PEACE Estate 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 at 305.440.1888 or visit our website: bvazquezlaw.com to get the process underway by scheduling a PEACE Estate Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
Disclaimer: I am not your lawyer unless you have paid me for legal advice and we have signed an agreement. I am a licensed attorney in the state of Florida. The information provided here is solely for educational purposes only, and not legal advice. You should absolutely consult with a lawyer before making any legal decision for yourself or your family. If you do want to work with a lawyer, I strongly recommend considering a lawyer who has the heart of a counselor, and specific training on how to get families talking about hard subjects, with great ease.